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Portrait of the Artist: my article on Alice Neel

The New Quarterly is posting my essay on Alice Neel openly for this week only, though without the portrait. Here it is, only this week.

And a short piece on how the essay came about that they’ve titled “Finding the Form with Beth Kaplan” will be up on the TNQ site on Thursday.

Major snowfall last night, the first this winter. School cancelled. Blessed Thomas shovelled and is now going across town to play in the snow with the boys. The world is muffled; there’s not a sound, nothing moving except – how glad I am to see the flurries at the bird-feeder, luckily filled not long ago. Because it would be quite a slog to get out there now.

Grateful Thomas is here!

The trench. They expect between 15 and 25 cms. 

Last night the whole of 60 Minutes was devoted to The Betrayal, a new book by Canada’s Rosemary Sullivan about the search for whoever betrayed the 8 inhabitants of the House Behind, Anne Frank and family and friends, all of whom died in the camps except Otto Frank. A retired American FBI agent took on the job with a huge team of experts. Their conclusion, though of course there’s no forensic evidence: it was a prominent Jewish businessman who survived the war by giving the Nazis addresses in Amsterdam where Jews were hiding. 

There was concern anti-Semitism might rise as a result of this discovery, but the team hopes it shows how totally the Nazis dehumanized the Jewish people.

Anne has haunted me all my life, as she has everyone who’s read her unforgettable Diary. I wonder about this man, how he lived the rest of his life, especially as the Diary became one of the most important books in the world and its author the most famous martyr of the war. How would it feel to know he had condemned her and many others to death?

I spent most of yesterday working on the essay ms., and the evening watching 60 Minutes and PBS while also reading by the fire, to the point that a blood vessel in my right eye exploded. Too much screen and too many words; today I’ll read and edit the long essays sent by my Tuesday U of T class. Two treats yesterday: an hour and a half Skype with Lynn in Montpellier, best friend for nearly 55 years and one of the best-read people I know, and, speaking of best-read, Eleanor dropping the new David Sedaris diary compilation with the marvellous title Carnival of Snackery by the house as a gift. 

Deeply grateful there’s food in the fridge and freezer, including Christmas dinner. I don’t have to go anywhere. It will be a long quiet snow day. Now, back to reading. Forgive me, eyes.



2 Responses to “Portrait of the Artist: my article on Alice Neel”

  1. theresa says:

    It's a really wonderful essay, Beth. Brava.

  2. beth says:

    Thank you, dear friend.

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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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