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Eleanor Wachtel’s last show

Here’s a blessing to bestow: May you have interesting friends. It’s my great good fortune that I do. And one of the most interesting is Eleanor Wachtel, whom I’ve known since Vancouver in the seventies. Of all the friends from the past, few have found exactly the right job and done it superbly for over three decades, as Eleanor did. 

Yesterday, the CBC celebrated her 33 years with and retirement from Writers&Company with a live broadcast of her last show, which will be on air in a few weeks. The Glenn Gould Studio was packed with fans to hear Matt Galloway interview the sublime interviewer, for a change, and then to hear Eleanor do what she does so very well, interview writers, this time Gary Shteyngart and Brandon Taylor, both witty Americans who had a great deal of good to say about Canada and Canadian writers Mavis Gallant and Mordecai Richler. But especially about Eleanor herself, as did many taped writers shown through the evening, telling her what she meant to them and to literature. One said she’s the best interviewer in the world. He’s right.

Every Sunday, when I’ve listened from 3 to 4, I write to tell her how much I enjoyed the show and what I cooked while listening. She joked, when offering me a ticket for last night, that she wondered if I’d be able to listen without utensils. I told her, after the show goes off the air, I’ll go to the website on Sundays at 3, find an interview I haven’t heard, listen, and cook. How she will be missed. 

Because El is all about books, here’s a shot of my Little Free Library yesterday – sometimes it’s empty, and sometimes it’s full of fascinating stuff. An eclectic bunch of readers around here.

I’m on the deck; there’s a tiny bright green bug circumnavigating the computer that I hope finds a more suitable path soon. It’s a heavenly day, and there’s a lot of gardening to do, but it’s break time. Last week was busy, with several new editing clients, back and forth about the new book, advertising my Write in the Garden workshop on July 23 and the U of T class July 10-14 (lots of room in both!). There was a gathering at Hemingway’s bar with the former members of the Nonfiction Collective’s conference committee, to exchange tips for surviving as a writer and get caught up. Thursday the last of my home classes until the fall, our potluck dinner and reading, always a huge treat. And tonight, dinner with Ron Singer, who gave me a Best Performance award at the Canadian University Drama League competition in 1969 and directed the tour of Under Milk Wood in 1971, and his wife Yvonne. Ron speaks Yiddish and is a fan of my Jewish Shakespeare book. A lively evening anticipated. A bond going back 54 years. Sheesh. 

Several friends have been having serious health problems. I read the blog of Hanif Kureshi, who had a catastrophic fall in Rome that left him paralyzed. Who knows what’s coming? So I am going to go out and smell the roses, literally. And the honeysuckle that’s just beginning, and the mint and lavender. As poet Lorna Crozier said, the garden going on without us. 

Or, if we’re lucky, with us. For now. 

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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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