William Weintraub


A Novel

“It’s a happy publishing season that includes a new book by William Weintraub.”

The National Post

“Crazy About Lili is a funny, farcical, and thoroughly engaging look back.”

The Globe and Mail

“Weintraub is adept at playing the historical tease, sprinkling in enough actual facts and local colour to give...credence to his jocular coming-of-age tale.”

The Montreal Gazette


Leacock Medal for Humour Finalist

#1 Montreal Gazette
Bestseller List

An innocent in the world of booze, brothels, and burlesque

Montreal in the late 1940s is the most vibrant, interesting city in North America. Booze, burlesque, brothels, gambling, corruption, and squabbling factions are part of the cacophony. Catholics, Protestants, French, English, business elite, Communist idealists, gangsters, reformers, and rogues all clamor for a piece of the action.

What does this mean to 17-year-old Richard Lippman and his friends who are about to enter their freshman year at McGill University? More than they know. All they want to do is get laid and find their direction in life.

Richard’s life is changed when his roguish Uncle Morty takes him to the Gayety Burlesque and introduces him to the dazzling stripper of the day, Lili L’Amour. Richard is smitten and sends her a poem he has written for her.

The elusive Lili, discovers a use for Richard and befriends him, introducing him to the world of exotic dancing. Meanwhile at McGill, his crush on the aristocratic Sophia provides his brush with the Communist Party which is legal in Canada. Alas, their appealing idealism is overshadowed by their earnestness.

Lili is not his sexual tutor, but his obsession for her reveals a world that sheltered, young Richard never imagined. Desperate to earn money to join Lili on the road, Richard unknowingly takes a job with a fraudulent real estate promoter. He skates through—but barely.

Douglas Gibson Books
McClelland & Stewart
Canada 2005


A Memoir of the 1950s

With Letters From Mordecai Richler, Mavis Gallant, and Brian Moore

"Dear Bill:
I got your highly unintellectual letter yesterday (Can't you think of anything important to say? Don't you know we live in highly explosive times?) and it confirmed my suspicions that you slipped a chair under your arse in the Deux Magots as soon as you arrived in Paris and probably haven't moved since. And so the sad parade of life passes you by, son..."

Letter from Mordecai Richler, June 27, 1951

There are many ways to describe this witty, charming memoir of friendship and literature. We could portray it as the story of three guys and a gal getting started in life and work. Each longs to write and to have fun. Hope mixes with doubt. Indeed, can four kids incubated in 1950s Montreal find adequate income, an interesting life, and recognition in the domestic and world arenas?

Amazingly, yes. In the 1950s, Brian Moore emerges as a novelist of the top rank with The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne. Mordecai Richler sees The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz become a success and a Canadian classic. Mavis Gallant moves to Paris and establishes herself as a major literary presence in the New Yorker magazine. And Bill Weintraub, hilariously funny, curious, and insightful, launches himself from journalism to a distinguished career as a filmmaker with Canada's National Film Board, and becomes an author of two comic novels, and later, an acclaimed book on the rise and fall of Montreal.

Weintraub and his pals speak through their lively, unselfconscious letters. They are affectionate, witty, generous, encouraging, and playful as they gossip, explore their own values, or recount difficult personal and professional setbacks. And when the mature Weintraub recollects those tender years, we experience the mastery of understatement, the elegance of economy, and perfect comic timing.

WILLIAM WEINTRAUB is the author of two novels, Why Rock the Boat and The Underdogs, and the non-fiction book, City Unique: Montreal Days and Nights in the 1940s and 1950s.

McClelland & Stewart CAN/Oct 2001 O/P



A Portrait Of Montreal

Novelist, filmmaker, journalist, William Weintraub offers a social history of Montreal in the 1940s and 1950s, depicting the rise and fall of a great city in all its vibrancy, corruption, and diversity. Rich in detail and anecdote, and broad in sweep, it promises to recapture the vigor of Montreal's glory days.

Robin Brass Studio Can/04



Controversial satire of Quebec separation. Adapted for a successful play staged in Montreal in 1998.




Comic novel of a young reporter's life and loves in 1940s Montreal. Feature film produced by the NFB.


William Weintraub is a celebrated author of three novels and two works of non-fiction. They include the classic Why Rock the Boat which was made into a feature film (NFB), City Unique: The Rise and Fall of English Montreal, and Getting Started his memoir of literary life and friendship with Mavis Gallant, Brian Moore and Mordecai Richler.