My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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harvest bounty

Talk about luck – all summer long, Toronto was flooded with rain, and then in late August – co-ordinating nicely with my return – the rain stopped. We have now had a record-breaking spell, for September, of hot, dry days. Mind you, this morning, as I rode my bike to St. Lawrence Market, my hands froze. It’s time, already, for gloves, at least on the bike. The mornings and nights are cold, but the days are still blessedly sunny and bright and hot.

One of the greatest treats of the week was the return of Wayson Choy from his book tour in Australia. Wayson and I are immersed in as great a love affair as a gay man can have with a woman. Joyful reunion, hugging, catching up, eating, celebrating. But best of all, I was able to tell him that during the class at Ryerson on Monday, when I asked each student why they were there and what they hoped to achieve, one replied that he was an engineer, had never done any kind of creative writing, but had recently read a book that so inspired him, he’d decided to learn to write. “Wonderful – what book?” I asked.
Not Yet,” he said, “by Wayson Choy. It was so beautifully written, I could see, hear, smell everything that happened. I’d like to learn to write like that.”
So would I. But we’ll do our best to imitate the master. That story meant a great deal to Wayson, modest man that he is. When telling about the standing ovations he received on his book tour, he said, “They wired the seats to give the audience electric shocks, so they had to get up.”
The market this morning was awash with late summer produce and a profusion of multicoloured dahlias. I loaded up, and this afternoon, after yoga class at the Y, came home to cook – a chicken, eggplant and basil stir-fry, a tomato sauce with pounds of fresh Roma tomatoes, peppers and more basil, and a tabbouleh with yet more tomatoes and mint and parsley from the garden. That should keep me going for a few days. Mona, in my Thursday home class, brought as a gift a Quebecois cheese – Sauvagine – absolutely delicious, as good as any subtle French cheese. I have been leaving it out for an hour before lunch or dinner so it’s melting and slightly stinky, and then diving in after the main course. Just as if I were still in France.
Which I may be again before too long. I have been negotiating with my extremely kind and generous boss, Lee Gowan, at U of T, to slightly change the dates of my winter and spring courses to ensure four consecutive weeks off next April. I’ve asked my Paris landlady to put a tentative hold on the apartment for me – depending on my situation, and on whether anyone in her family wants the place then. But if not Paris, next April I will be going somewhere. Next year is my 60th birthday. A good excuse for more globe-trotting.
So much to celebrate.
In the midst of all this celebration, I ‘d like to share a little heartbreak, a small cloud, a shadow. I called my publisher, Syracuse University Press, to ask if they were considering reprinting my book. Surely, I thought, the thousand copies of the first print run must be nearly gone; the book was published more than two years ago.
They informed me that there are still over 300 copies in the warehouse. The book, which took me 25 years to research, write and get published, has sold fewer than 700 copies. It hurts. I thought that at least, if it didn’t appeal to a mass audience, it would be a textbook for universities with Yiddish courses. It seems not. Gordin is just too obscure, the book just too dense, perhaps. Or perhaps they just don’t know it’s there. Syracuse made a lovely book, but marketing is not their strong point, to put it mildly.
Well, I decided, the book is like my kids. I have put every bit of love I can into their upbringing, and now it’s up to them. At the moment, they’re not living up to their potential, but that’s all right – they’re young and finding their feet. And anyway, their definition of success and happiness is different from mine. All three of my offspring are out in the world slowly making their way. I can only leave them be, dig into my stir-fry dinner, savour a bit of Sauvagine and get on with vital projects – writing my next book and dreaming of the next foreign adventure.
Oh, and by the way – I flipped through a fashion magazine the other day and read that “a velvet blazer is the key wardrobe item of the season.” Guess what I sold for $7.00 at the garage sale? You guessed it – the most beautiful velvet blazer. Ain’t that always the way? I want it back!

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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.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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A new book by Beth Kaplan, published by Mosaic Press – “Midlife Solo”

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