My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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catching up at Christmas

Just came back from a five day whirl in Ottawa, visiting my mother, aunt, brother and nephew with my own kids in tow for part of it – an overdose of family, with all the joys and frustrations normal at such times.  Moments when you’re overwhelmed with love for these hilarious, beautiful people with whom you share so much genetic material, and then other moments when you wonder how in God’s name you, in all your sanity, could be linked to this flagrant group of lunatics. Does this ring a bell?

However, it was a great visit. Anna asked her grandmother to teach her to knit; the two of them sat side by side, one with thick black curly gypsy hair, the other with a neat grey bob, and important knowledge was successfully transferred with a clicking of needles. Sam watched “Guys and Dolls” with his grandma and 88-year old great-auntie, checked his Facebook page during the sappy love bits, returned for the gambling funny bits, and at the end said, “I’m a better person for having seen that.” We all helped give baby Jake his dinner and put him to bed; Anna does this all the time and loves nothing better, I by the end was grateful my time with the very very young is over forever.
The minute I got home, I came down with my first cold or flu in a year and a half. Not coincidental, surely – the exhaustion of family stress – fifty-eight years of it, all piled up – plus the fact is that right now my calendar is relatively clear. I am seeing a few students privately, but teaching is over for the term, so if I’m sick, I’m not missing any work. I think I gave myself permission to go under. And here I am, well under. Luckily I had made a huge pot of chicken soup to pour into bottles and give as Xmas presents – so there is some in the freezer for me.
I went on-line this morning – being sick is so different now, with the entire world still available even when we’re prone and achy. I found out that my book was chosen as the April 2008 selection for the Glimmerglass Opera Book Club – the company produces operas during the summer in a spectacular building in Cooperstown, New York, and in 2008 did five operas based on Shakespeare plays. Hence, the reading of my book. And I found a very nice Vancouver review of the book and my talk there, by the very nice Faith Jones, who is not a relative:
 Among other things Kaplan told a sold-out crowd in Vancouver, she aimed to figure out why Gordin has been so neglected in contemporary theatre and in literary studies. Kaplan’s theatre training stood her in good stead as she read from the book and answered questions about her research. A witty and entertaining speaker, she clearly captivated the crowd with her lively and illuminating anecdotes. 
I also found out that on a site called “Goodreads,” in which people discuss the books they’ve read and would like to read, “Jewish Shakespeare” is on the “to read” list of … two great readers. Go for it, I say, you lovely people.
And that Jacob Gordin, who died in 1909, is on Facebook. That’s wierd. He lives in B.C., whoever he is, and he’s young. A relative? Maybe. And in Season 6, Episode 16 of “The Sopranos”, an actress called Tracey Silver played a character called Beth Kaplan. Do you think she was a gangster’s moll? Oh, daydreaming again …  
As for work, Christmas of course lands a heavy foot in the middle, but my dear Wayson’s viciously thorough edit (“OUT! OUT!”) of my pen-pal essay was one of the most valuable writing lessons I’ve ever had. Get on with it, is the message. Launch the story and keep it moving; otherwise, why should they turn the page, those restless souls out there who haven’t even got to their “to read” list?



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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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