My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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burning the candle of memory

Another of those days when I feel overwhelmed by everything I have to do, should be doing, must do. Most importantly, it seems the proofs of Midlife Solo will arrive soon and need to be reviewed in depth. The publisher says advance copies will be ready mid to late August for a possible launch in October, which means starting a marketing campaign NOW. That’s a full-time job in itself — lists for review copies, book clubs, social media, god knows what. Endless, none of it fun, all of it necessary.

But there’s also the garden and the house and myself — every time I turn around I see something else that needs urgently to be done, with only you-know-who to do it. Not to mention the reading: the New Yorkers, the literary reviews, and the books, right now, six books that need to be read asap, including a library book and two bought at Ben McNally the other day – Abigail Thomas’s Still Life at Eighty and one I’d never heard of about “nine women writers (who) start again.” (And two books for Ben’s 8th birthday.) Then there’s a friend’s manuscript in my inbox, plus the writers I’m editing who send regularly. It makes me glad I’m not teaching at U of T next week, though really, I’m sad I’m not. A lot of the classes were cancelled. My boss thinks people are leery of returning to in-class learning.

Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of my father’s death, on July 6 1988. I burned a yahrzeit candle for him and felt him there, with me, all day, as the candle is meant to do. And there was a treat: a visit with Pam, a student of his at the University of Ottawa in the late sixties, who eventually did her Ph.D. with him. For some reason, my paranoid mother decided she and Dad were having an affair and that a baby Pam had out of wedlock and gave up for adoption was my father’s child. (This story is explored in Loose Woman, where Pam is called Kate.) A few years ago I connected with Pam, who lives in Amsterdam, and she set the record straight. She and Dad were close, he was instrumental in her career, “like a father to me,” but there was nothing sexual, ever, even hinted at. My poor benighted mother.

Fifteen years ago Pam and her son joyfully found each other, and she comes to Toronto to visit him and his family. Yesterday,  as Dad’s candle burned nearby, Pam and I got to know each other and became instant best friends, united by our love of J. Gordin Kaplan. And, it turned out, much else. A gift from Dad.

I made another great friend a few days ago, a writer I met at the CNFC conference in Halifax who lives in Toronto and got in touch; we had a great meeting and exchanged manuscripts. A kindred spirit. More friends. More gifts.

Now to get busy with the to-do list. Sigh.

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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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