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off to New York

This morning, I walked to the end of the garden early to eat breakfast and read the paper. And there I saw a fantastic construction – a minuscule spider had built a web, with one strand attached to the umbrella and another to the swing, at least a 4 or 5 foot span, two delicate threads leading to the perfect web with its builder and occupant at the centre, waiting. Can you see it, gleaming there in the middle?

And I thought, that’s what we writers do – we build a web, a seemingly delicate but actually powerful creation, to draw people in. I’m not saying our readers are like flies – but I guess in a way they are. We don’t eat them, though, but the reverse: we feed them.

And then I walked back through the garden onto the deck, past this,

and thought, somehow I have to tear myself away, force myself to go to New York tomorrow for five days, to stay at my cousin Ted’s at 77th and 3rd, see theatre, see family, see my agent and the exhibit about the Yiddish theatre. I will have to force myself, though I’d much rather sit in my garden smelling the camellias, the jasmine and roses and lavender.

But I will make the sacrifice, leaving my son and my friend Louise to water the garden and take care of the house.

The big news is that I received a major edit of the memoir draft today from Colin Thomas in Vancouver. Ye gods, he has done a phenomenal job. It’s many pages long and in great detail, and what he says basically is, it’s in good shape but needs work. Of course. He suggests many cuts, which leave me wondering if the ms. will be 63 pages long when the cutting is done. But he suggests needed additions too. Luckily, I will have time over the next five days to ponder what he has said, as I march about consuming culture in NYC. Thank you, Colin. A great deal to digest, and very helpful.

Eli came for a sleepover on Sunday, and did much watering of the garden.

On Monday we went to the gorgeous Regent’s Park pool for the preschool swim. It was amazing: every possible colour of adult and child was there, every race, plus a trans (wo)man with breasts and a beard and several children. And we were all doing the same thing, guarding very small people while encouraging them to splash and play. A great time was had by all. Eli jumped into my arms 4,692 times. And then it was time for lunch.

And on Monday night, a huge treat – I went to Books on Film at TIFF, to watch the film “Kes” and then listen to Eleanor Wachtel interview Helen Macdonald, author of “H is for Hawk.” It’s a haunting film I’d never seen because I knew it would be painful – but worth it, definitely, very moving and true, one of the top ten British films. Horrifying, though, the brutal world of working class Britain that it depicts, this kid so beset and alone, both home and school full of bullies, most of all his neglectful mother, his vicious brother, the teachers.

Helen Macdonald is a great speaker – almost too self-deprecating, so British, she apologized for everything. Imagine pitching her book to a publisher: here we have a memoir about an unemployed academic floundering in terrible grief who decides to train a goshawk, which process she describes in great detail, and also the life of T. H. White. Sound like an international bestseller to you? And yet it was, because she’s a stunning writer and very honest. What a confusing business. Eleanor did her usual brilliant interview; it was as if we were eavesdropping on a conversation between friends.

I was her guest at the evening, and after buying her new book “Best of Writers and Company: interviews with 15 of the world’s greatest authors” – and if that doesn’t make your mouth water, I don’t know what will – I went out after with her and several friends to a groovy bar on King St. West, for mussels and wine. I don’t get out enough.

But tomorrow I’m getting quite far out. Last teaching of the spring term tonight. Next post from Noo Yawk.



2 Responses to “off to New York”

  1. theresa says:

    I loved "H is for Hawk", a book deserving of its accolades and attention.
    And how lovely your garden is! Wow. And your gardener — or at least the water-boy…!

  2. beth says:

    Yes, my gardener loves to water. How I hope he keeps that eager spirit. Happy Canada Day to you, Theresa.

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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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