My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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news from New York

Yesterday, good news and bad news.  A student has rescued the baby seal book at Pages.  It opened its big black eyes and blinked at her gratefully, as she tucked it under her arm and took it home.  (As the “New Yorker” would say, “Block that metaphor!”)

On the other hand, I had an email from the 92nd Street Y in New York, to tell me that the advance registration for my talk about Jacob Gordin and my book is so low that they will probably cancel.  To be specific: the number of people in the metropolis of New York, who are so interested that they have signed up in advance, is seven. 

Perhaps I don’t have to elaborate on what a hard moment that was.  Seven.  I wasn’t expecting hordes, you understand, hundreds of eager readers clamouring for the book.  But I did assume that in a city of many millions, including hundreds of thousands of intellectual, book-loving Jews, more than a handful would want to hear about an extraordinary historical figure and my search for him.  
But then good sense returned. Why should they?  This is not so much about my book – though realistically, Gordin is indeed an obscure figure – it’s about marketing.  The listing for the talk is tucked into a small corner of the Y’s vast programming. There have been no local reviews of the book.  How can people come to hear a talk they haven’t heard about, on a book they don’t know exists?
The Y kindly agreed to a reprieve.  There will be a talk, but if there aren’t enough people, it will not be in the Art Gallery which needs an expensive union crew; it will be in a classroom.  I spent the rest of the day emailing family and anyone else who might be interested.  Marketing is not my strong point, however, and I’m in Canada, far away from the action.
In the end, I realised that it doesn’t matter what happens now.  What matters is that the book exists, and I’m proud of it.  I had to write it, though writing it made absolutely no sense financially.  It was a story I had no choice but to tell, and I’m glad that I told it.  Now, yes, I would like people to read my work, to find the story as compelling and heartbreaking as I do. But whether they do or not, I’ve done my job.
In this harsh business, which offers ample rewards to so few, that has to be why we work. We do it because we have to, because we love it, because we are writers with stories to tell.  And we keep our day jobs.
I hope to treat those seven brave people, sitting in a classroom at the 92nd Street Y, to one of the best stories they have ever heard.



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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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