My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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listening and watching

Went to a fine free event at Toronto’s airy Reference Library on Friday night – a celebration of this year’s Canada Reads contestants. NON-FICTION contestants, hooray. I went with my friend Annie, who works on social justice issues with the Jesuit Forum and who went specifically to hear the powerful Marina Nemat speak on her book Prisoner of Tehran, about being imprisoned and tortured at the age of 16 by the ayatollahs. We are very proud of her in the U of T writing department – she did the first drafts of her book with us.

And speak powerfully she did, about how she put what had happened to her away for years, refusing to face it – because then, she could pretend it would all just go away. “Trauma leaves terrible wounds,” she said. “Acknowledging them brings responsibility.” Finally, after a psychotic episode, she realized that either she would jump off a bridge or face her past. Through writing the book, she said, she found herself.
And then she spoke about two innocent Canadian citizens in Evin Prison right now, in Tehran, facing execution, and urged us to get involved, sign petitions, do what we can. The men’s wives were in the audience. It was a fierce and very moving moment. An admirable woman.
Before that, we heard Dave Bidini on his book about touring Canada with his band, an animal advocate speaking about John Vaillant’s suspenseful Siberian tiger book, Carmen Aguirre who has written about returning to Chile as a girl, with her mother, to fight against Pinochet, and Ken Dryden, goalie extraordinaire, about his life with the game of hockey. Nemat was stirring and the others were interesting, but it was Dryden who made me cry, writing with such warmth and detail of the winter ritual of the backyard rink, and how he played his first professional game in the Montreal Forum, in front of his father and against his own older brother, in the opposing net – just as they used to play as boys.
Thrilling stories, true true true. May they all win.
Tonight, Downton again, and again, I am desperate to know what happens. How do they keep all those balls in the air, all those complex plots spinning away up there? It’s extraordinary writing and directing, sets, costumes, music – but most of all, those actors, what actors. Professionals like that can do more with a tiny eye movement, a small twist of the mouth, or even a motionless silence, than lesser actors can with an hour of wailing. Stunningly good work. Jean-Marc, Richard and I sat on the sofa, huddled together near the box of Kleenex, which I needed during William’s wedding – and if you were watching, I’m sure you did too. Unforgettable.
A thrilling story, completely made up, not true at all – and yet, of course, it is.



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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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