My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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Generous words about the book

Monday, it was 16 degrees in Toronto. On March 4! Talk about “in like a lamb.” Crazy Canucks were out in tank tops and shorts. Nature is confused; flowers and buds are appearing, many weeks early. We all know it’s terrible and wrong, but it’s also hard to complain. We’ve had one real snowfall so far. Maybe winter will be in April, who knows?

Everyone in the family is better, almost; Eli and Ben are both at school for the first time in ages, but now Anna is sick. My cold has nearly gone except from my congested, wheezy lungs. These frequent bugs always hit my lungs — something to discuss with the doctor when I see him, which I’ve no reason to do at this time. I’m reading Harry Potter to the boys in the evening, as always marvelling at Rowling’s endless imagination and inventiveness. Hippogriffs! Dementors! Boggarts! How did she do it?

Otherwise, I’m starting to gear up for March 31, my overseas trip with a very small suitcase, picking out clothes that will do triple duty. Extraordinarily, a local theatre company advertised that they needed a place for an artist to stay starting March 31 — too coincidental to pass up, so I’ve rented out my bedroom. Some extra work, cleaning and tidying and making sure all is ready for a stranger who’ll feed Tiggy, but the rental money will help pay for a fence I need to put up in the back to keep her inside my yard. She got out the other day, I know not how, slipped through the current fence into the neighbour’s yard, was chased by their dog, and ended up miaowing high in a tree; it took an hour to cajole her down. Ah, the exciting life of downtown Toronto! The other day an enormous groundhog scurried across the deck. A first.

Still teaching two U of T courses and my home class this week, editing, doing a podcast interview about Midlife Solo Friday, and a dear friend arrives from Vancouver to stay Friday night. Sam moves into a new apartment in his building today, one with easy yard access for Bandit, and just found out from the sleep clinic that he has severe sleep apnea, stops breathing every few minutes as he sleeps. Good to know. CPap machine to come.

In the blowing own horn department, want to share a note about Midlife Solo I just received from Kathy, a good friend and writing student: “This book is your tour de force. Individually they were such great vignettes; together they become something much more: a triumphant declaration of hope in a growing darkness. Good, good medicine in a time when I fear society is going to need all the medicine it can get.”

And then she wrote that a friend of hers, who’d had a terrible childhood and fought alcoholism and depression, used to love going to the Christmas pageant at Riverdale Farm that was produced by a friend and me and is described in the essay “Baby Jesus Comes to Cabbagetown” in the book. “It was one of the things that was a life saver for her and extended her life. She died by suicide. But you bought her extra time.”

I wrote back that sometimes, all writers ask themselves why they bother. And then readers come up with the only answer that counts: because someone was moved. The words matter. In a time of growing darkness, as she says — such incomprehensible darkness, such wanton cruelty and stupidity, the heart is constantly heavy — maybe our very small words can make a difference to someone. And perhaps doing something for the community can matter too. You never know to whom.

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2 Responses to “Generous words about the book”

  1. And to think that J.K. Rowling’s manuscript was rejected by 12 publishers!! And at one point in her life she slept in her car. Unbelievable but true.

  2. Beth Kaplan says:

    Gives all writers heart, Juliet. I talk to my students about the blind faith writers need in themselves and their work – how Rowling once got a small grant and used it to pay for babysitting so she could write about boy wizards flying around on brooms. I can imagine her friends saying, Are you out of your mind?! But she had faith.

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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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