A photo of himself at 19 sporting mascara and bed-of-nails black hair suggests that Daniel Richler may well have been the model for Robbie, the punk malcontent of his hip coming-of-age novel, Kicking Tomorrow. ”I was like one of those posters that antidrug campaigns hang in bus shelters,” admits Richler, the son of Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz). Like Robbie, he lived in Montreal, played in a band, the Alpha Jerks (”we had instruments; we certainly couldn’t play them”), and was booted out of the house.
And, like Robbie, he moved on. Richler — who says he’s ”between 30 and death” — helped create The NewMusic, a show on Canada’s version of MTV, and is now host of Imprint, a ”rock & roll book show” on Ontario’s public-TV network. ”But I was coming up to the border — you know, 30 — and I saw that I had to unload a certain amount of baggage if I was going to get on with life,” he says. So he decided to write a novel.
Mindful of his own angst-ridden adolescence, Richler wanted his book to ”confirm in teenagers’ minds that they were not alone in their terminal rage and remind adults that they were that way once too.” Thick with the lush, psychedelic language of the ’70s, Kicking Tomorrow is an amalgam of his own anxieties and anecdotes he picked up from rockers and punks. ”Once you fall in love with the rock & roll lifestyle, it’s hard to know whether you want to exorcise all your demons or exercise them daily, keep the energy going,” he says. Richler has clearly decided to keep the energy going.