My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Holding the Taj Mahal of books

India is a country of the most extreme contrasts, full of exquisite treasure and garbage, magnificent, appalling. Agra is typical – an unspeakably filthy town where in the parking lot men battle over tourists, shouting and shoving. From the parking lot you go through extensive security and more aggressive touts pushing postcards and souvenirs. And then you stand weeping in front of the most beautiful building on earth, the mystical Taj Mahal, graceful, serene, lovelier than any photograph. Perfect. And then you go out again through the touts, the skinny dogs and cows, the garbage and mud.

I kept a diary throughout the trip of course, and am working at transcribing it to see if there’s a story. I mean, of course there’s a story, but is there one to publish? The short answer is yes.

The day after I returned, woozy with jet lag, the doorbell rang; it was a FedEx man with a box. “It’s heavy,” he said. “It’s books.” “I know,” I said, heart pounding. I slit open the box and there they were, my author’s copies of the most gorgeous book in the world, the Taj Mahal of books. Syracuse has done a wonderful job – the book is as well produced as I could ever have imagined. The cover, font, chapter headings, spacing – all ideal. It has the right heft, solid but not daunting. I wonder if the world will agree. The next day I sat down and read the thing, and at the end was able to say that I found no typo’s, and as I read I didn’t scream in agony once. A wince or three – I wish I’d said that better, oooh, turgid here – but not, to my surprise, excruciating.

I wonder if the world will agree.

Two weeks later, I am still waiting to find out. It’s a curious kind of limbo, this period when the book is out in the world but no one has read it yet. I’ve had two important reviews: from my friend Gerry Caplan and from my daughter. Gerry seemed genuinely to like it, and thrillingly, Anna told me that one day she read for five hours straight. “It’s good,” she said. High, high praise; I expected her to be bored with the factual, biographical parts. Now I’m preparing for the book launch, issuing invitations and copies of the book, mailing, phoning, checking, making lists, finding bits in the plays for the actors Paul Soles and Kate Trotter to perform.

But in the scramble part of me is still standing, in tears, before the Taj Mahal.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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