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Long live all maidens

easy and beautiful !

Long live mature women also,

Tender and loveable and full of good labor. 

Gaudeamus Igitur

Our lives became intertwined the day we began to slide clandestine notes back and forth during a writing course. Consequently, once the course ended, we embarked on a series of emails and surprisingly, an epistolary adventure unravelled. In these exchanges we bare our souls about love and life … things are never quite what they seem.

While we want to be courageous in our re-telling, we ask you to keep in mind the words of John Irving – please remember that all memoir is fiction.

Adria and Sarah

Tuesday
Nov242009

What the World Needs Now...  

Hi Sarah,

Your VP Bitch must need friends desperately or else she is clueless. You do know that a lot of them choose to become principals because they can then collect a bigger pension (based on best years of work). So what is that telling you? Money rules, or at least, directs. Where is altruism these days? People are in it for the almighty buck.

Hopefully your colleagues who also have Chosen Ones in their classes (sounds like Atwood's Handmaid's Tale ... plenty of chosen ones there) will band together and confront this dame. There's nepotism, favouritism, cronyism and more, all things we are powerless against and as Moira said to me this morning, it's who you know Mom ... today's Star shows 53% of the population makes $10 to $20 per hour!)

 What have you got to lose by telling her off? You’ve got enough sick days to last you till the end of the year (and you are truly packing it in, right?) I know this is not really you though. People fear losing their jobs and this gives those in charge such power. I recall standing up for my rights when I was accused by a higher-up of stealing an extra meal and storing it up for my supper (you know about our wonderful buffets at St. Hildegarde's). I faced her straight on, and wagged my finger in her face (didn't go so far as to give her the finger) and accused her of lying. Now, years later, she is like air to me whenever we happen to meet.

 It's at dinners such as our pre-Christmas celebration last Saturday that one forgets all animosity, becomes grateful for good food, family and peace (for the time being) and puts problems aside. The host and hostess at Thai Pan are trained at creating that Asian ambiance that puts you in a calm space as soon as you walk in the door: yellow Laburnum in pots around our table (artificial, nonetheless...), soft melismatic sighs from the Erhu and bottomless cups of hot ginger tea. Soothing moments in a wild world.

 I guarantee you will be transported at the Christmas Mass concert on Saturday. It’ll be great to have you there ... as always. You can forget your VP and all those school politics and do a time warp thing back to 18th century Leipzig. Try bringing ginger tea in a thermos for the break (maybe add a shot of whatever).

I will need something strong myself if I am to meet Francis.

Adria

Sunday
Nov292009

Genius and Bliss 

Thank you, Adria.

What a powerful, magical concert that was! I was transported back to the Latin Masses I attended as a child and the rituals that I loved. The young tenor who sang the Pastor parts was superb. Beth and I wondered about singing in German. How much of the language does one need to know? Is it just pure practice that makes one able to sing in a foreign language?  

When I saw you walking to the back of the church, at intermission, I craned my neck to watch. As you approached, he got up and I caught the stance, the closeness, and the looks on both your faces. It was a Casablanca moment. Okay, so I love movie moments or are they life moments captured in movies? No matter. I am eager to hear about your moment with – who else could it be, Francis.  

To answer your question, I have nothing to lose by telling my VP off, but I’ve managed to avoid this kind of useless confrontation in my career. I’m a Libran. I like harmony, peace. Anyhow, she’s backing off these days because she knows that trouble is brewing with the Union: many reports of her bullying ways. As a Department Head, I have a dual role – one to is to support the Administrative Team and the other is to coach and, as I see it, support the teachers in my Department. They (not only in the English Department) frequently ask me to meet and discuss matters and see what can be done. I try to be diplomatic and supportive, but I can’t get sucked into everyone else’s battles with her, so I also have to be, to a certain degree, detached. What I can’t lose sight of are my two large classes and the energy required to do a good job. How ironic that a VP can make the school atmosphere so toxic that the actual act of TEACHING becomes secondary.

See why I love your concerts? Besides the evident talent, genius, passion and bliss, they render school politics insignificant. I read a great line in Rapt - our lives are the sum of what we focus on. It’s nothing new, but I like the power and simplicity of how it’s phrased. 

I am eagerly anticipating our new writing class. What a strange time of year to run a course, when you think of all that goes on in December. Not that this would ever bother Francine. She did say she hated the whole xmas season and she must have the numbers, or else she would have postponed it for sure. It better be fun and stress-free.

The concert at Koerner Hall is on Dec.11, right?  I have been working on my December Calendar. Jessie arrives on the 9th for one day and then off to NYC and LA and Miami. He returns around the 21st. I finish on the 18th and Dan and I go to Ottawa and Montreal that first weekend (family obligations). I booked a room at The Lac Leamy Hilton (just because we wanted to travel at xmas, but with Jesse coming home we can’t, so this is a little two night treat.) It is between Ottawa and Montreal. As Jesse so eloquently put it, “I don’t get it, Ma, you can’t make it to New York so you’re going to Hull!”  

Ah! These young, spoiled world travellers.

Have a restful Sunday. You deserve it.


Sarah-Getting-Into-the-Christmas-Spirit

Monday
Nov302009

One Big family

You’re welcome! Absolutely exhilarating in so many ways!

 To answer your question, we all more or less understand the German. It's expected of singers to be fairly fluent in French and German, Russian ... well maybe not quite. I too love ritual. The lead-up to each concert performance is in itself ritualistic. That's why no matter what the weather or the fatigue level, we make such an effort to be there week after week, year after year. It's like a big family in a way.

 Both the director and his wife were soloists at my parents' funerals. Their children mingled with ours at a time when my girls were still happy to be in frilly dresses, eating gingerbread men at Christmas fundraisers, chasing each other around decorative tables. There are photos taken in the little courtyard at the Heliconian Club in Yorkville where these fundraisers were usually held: innocent sweet faces on precious little ones, now young men and women in the concert circuit and on the stages of New York and European capitals. 

 Of course I was anticipating my intermission meeting with Francis the whole time. The effort of singing, all the ambiguous feelings welling up, seemed ... I felt so flushed. To be expected, probably. I had not seen him for at least fifteen years. But then again, it could have been the pace of the day, the three-hour rehearsal that morning, the driving back and forth ... whatever. 

 But then, suddenly, the unexpected. Monsieur Fourchette brushed off the last flourishes of the opening Prelude on his portative organ. Natalia intoned the Puer Natus Est and the choir began its tutti. It was as if I could physically see my father entering those huge oak doors at the church entrance, as he always did, slipping in quietly, paying his ticket and taking a seat near the back. He would often take a taxi from Union Station, having travelled alone from Hamilton by train, and would find his way to whatever church our choir was performing at. And this continued till he was almost eighty. He's been dead for twenty years. I seemed to catch a faint whiff of his pipe tobacco. Keeping an eye on me.

St. Peter's church is actually the "motherhouse" for the fathers of the Sacred Heart. I was chummy with a group of them in my twenties. Singing in that same church, now, with Bel' Arte felt just a bit strange. I drifted back to those weird and wonderful times: attending Mass, pizza and coke (Cola) parties, guitar jamming sessions with priests! So one of them became my special priest/friend and then my friend/priest/confidante ... no …  actually my confidante/friend/priest  … well, more than that really! I was one of those women who chose the forbidden and felt chosen at the same time. Confusion, guilt and then  ... Librium.

 I was trying not to look too much like the little kid searching for her parents but couldn't resist checking everyone out, pew by pew, face by face: some meditative and pious, some with heads down on their chests (asleep maybe?) and still others off in heaven somewhere. It didn't take long for me to pick Francis out in the third row from the front. He was sitting with Matt and Peter by the centre aisle. I was relieved he hadn't brought his wife (nor any of his children). It would have been far too distracting for me.

Not so sure that was a Casablanca moment you witnessed! More like two older (not yet old) people exchanging warm seasonal greetings, animatedly throwing their hands around, making focused small talk. The cleft in his chin was more pronounced, his teeth more widely spaced now. His once shiny, almost streaked blonde hair seemed a little dulled by time and there was less of it. But the unmistakable Icelandic blue eyes had never changed. I did not dare to look at what had once been a generous bulge and couldn't comment on that, but anyway, they say men just get bigger with age. I'm sure I'll get another crack at it. He was enthralled with the performance and we managed a big hug just before I disappeared into the wings for the second half. We exchanged phone numbers.

Looking forward to the course next week. Koerner Hall is booked. I've never heard the Tallis Scholars live. 

Adria  

Monday
Nov302009

Adria's Man 

You are a wicked woman, Adria. Don’t you dare look at his bulge. And ‘another crack’ at it? Pretty risqué stuff and all within the confines of a sacred establishment.   

I can’t wait to hear the full story. This will certainly be tantalizing material (to say the least) for the Memoir Class. Hope she makes you read your stuff out loud. That should ensure 100% attendance!

Seriously, was he the Great Love of your life? I leave you with that question as I go and read more of The Bishop’s Man while waiting for more on Adria’s Man.

Your Fan Sarah 

I wanted to sign off in deep purple – such a royal and spiritual colour, but I had to use blue.  Look what I found on line about the significance of purple. 

Purple is the color of good judgment. It is the color of people seeking spiritual fulfillment. It is said if you surround yourself with purple you will have peace of mind. Purple is a good color to use in meditation.

Purple has been used to symbolize magic and mystery, as well as royalty. Being the combination of red and blue, the warmest and coolest colors, purple is believed to be the ideal color. Most children love the color purple. Purple is the color most favored by artists. Thursday's color is purple.

Wednesday
Dec022009

Flowers of the Rarest 

Risqué? At my age? And you forget that it was all sacred establishment for me at one time.

 When I was eight years old and still in Holland, I recall going with my mother to say goodbye to a favourite priest of hers, Pater Wherter. My mother had purchased a gold leaf breviary (where all the pages pressed together look like a gold bar) for him to use in Jakarta, where he had been commissioned to go, no doubt by the bishop. It was just a short walk from our house to his mother's place where we met in the front parlour. My mother and the grownups had a cup of coffee with one biscuit each. I remember the glass of syrupy orange limonade I was given, being just the child.

At age nine, a few weeks before boarding the Zuiderkruis (Southern Cross), the ship that would take us all to Halifax (Pier 21), I attended a big feast in honour of my cousin's ordination to the priesthood. His going away gift from our family was a silver aspersorium (a receptacle that holds holy water and is used by the priest to sprinkle and bless the people as he walks down the aisle during Mass. Now that’s ritual). A short time after, he went away to the missions in the Belgian Congo (Stanleyville) and returned when the massacres were just beginning. I was shocked at his snowy white hair, once so raven black. Today, after many years as superior of his religious order in Belgium, he is retired, nurses his arthritic knees and lives in a small Dutch village where he happily watches Lakenvelder cattle grazing around his cottage. 

My older sister left our family to enter the convent of Ursuline nuns. She was just thirteen. Being the second eldest of the four girls, I had to assume a new responsibility with her gone. My father kept saying she could have been a doctor or a lawyer

 Now you can see why things felt so cosy between Francis and me when I first laid eyes on him in my college residence. It was all too familiar territory. 

He had a twelve-string guitar and a set of hefty muscles. He would come to celebrate Mass in the parlour each Sunday (parlours seem to abound in my life) in that intimate setting, for a handful of students and a few flashy nuns who no longer wore habits. They had shed those for some time in favour of wearing street clothes. He was also Dutch, came from Nuenen (Van Gogh's territory) just a few kilometres from Tilburg where I had lived. We could well have been in those same May processions that honoured the Virgin Mary. I loved tossing handfuls of pastel rose petals from my little basket onto the cobble-stoned streets. In Canada, it was the Marian Day processions in Hamilton at Copp's Stadium (yes, named after Sheila Copps' father) and all those Loretto girls with their blue beanies on their heads (why were they called beanies?) singing ... bring flowers of the fairest, bring flowers of the rarest, from garden and woodland and hillside and vale ... ahh ... ritual. It swept me up.

I'll dollop out my tidbits to you in instalments, nice and slow ... of course I'll use it for the memoir class. The love of my life? you ask. Well, the whole thing was probably just pure ... Oh, there goes the bell … sorry, have to go to my student ... lost all track of time!

Hasta la vista,

Adria                                                                                                                                   

 

Thursday
Dec032009

‘Tis the Season

 I’m excited about our Memoir workshop this Monday. I’m getting out all the old diaries and going through my “Family” folders, sifting through stuff, seeing what could be used. Love Hart House: perfect venue for a writing class with all that warm wood, the intriguing nooks and such ambiance. Talk about inspiring!

 The Jane Gardam book you lent me (Going into a Dark House) is brilliant. I didn't realize these were short stories. Absolute gems. Each one immediately takes you right to the place: much to be learned from her writing and worth mentioning at the class as a notable. Blue Poppies, the first story, just a few pages in length, opens, "My mother died with her hand in the hand of the Duchess". The second, Chinese Funeral, starts," 'I could do without the coffin', said the Englishwoman. 'Going to China with a coffin'." The third is about a dying nun in the back of a Morris. They are all priceless vignettes and I read them this afternoon in a comfortable chair in a remote corner of the school where the lights are least white and bright. 

I paced myself today after making some progress with this beast of a headache. I've tried to fight it for most of November already. Made a ginger, lemon and honey concoction last night from organic ingredients and that, with an extra strength Tylenol, has hopefully sent me on the road to normalcy again ... for the time being. 

 Franca did not show up for her lesson today after school. I called her grandmother who mentioned that she had left on time and should be there any moment (she lives nearby). But no Franca. I did panic just a little (in the light of the recent Forest Hill student's disappearance). She is beautiful. Her parents are well off and away on a holiday. She has teenage issues. But there she was when I got back to my room, waiting for me inside my studio, her friend by her side. They’d been studying together at the neighbourhood Starbucks. All smiles at first, I'm so sorry ... she started, and then the telltale red rims of her eyes, the ensuing tears rolling slowly down her cheeks ...  choke, choke  ... too many tests, one project a week ... from each of her teachers. Franca loves her piano, but she will have to place it last on her list of priorities. She'll have to pace things to be able to make it work. Bach will have to wait.

I've heard St. Hildegarde's is setting up a series of meetings where the major point of discussion will revolve around the reduction of the present impossible workload that creates stress for the students. Did you see the article in the Globe where the lawyer parents are asking the school to mark their offspring solely on work accomplished at school?  Very interesting concept. Where is the time to think, to read something you like, to play a favourite instrument, to make ginger bread cookies ... if that's what you want to do, to hang out with a good friend  ... to do nothing? They are young only once.

Carlo is reading Dickinson again and I will write my Dutch Christmas cards this evening ... to music, Shostakovich’s String Trios 1 and 2 and more. Carlo's not crazy about carols. My motivation? Chapman's maple walnut ice cream when I finish.

Hear from you soon,

Adria                                      

Sunday
Dec062009

Books, books, books …. 

Hi, 

Hope you are feeling better. I’ve heard so many people at school complain about serious headaches and migraines this month. I wonder if it is weather (atmospheric conditions) related. Maybe our Canadian bodies expect the cold and snow by now! 

I love Jane Gardam’s writing. Her sense of place and setting is formidable. When I read FILTH it was as if I had never left Hong Kong. Very similar to Paul Scott’s Staying On

So I’m eager to read the short stories. Speaking of books, Jesse asked for Walt Whitman for Christmas, and I would have loved to buy him a special copy. Less that 5 years ago I could have walked to Harbord and found a copy in any one of the great books shops. Now, trendy bars and restaurants have replaced them all. Even the last holdout, Atticus Antiquarian Books, closed in the spring and probably the super-trendy-valet-parking Splendido’s will take over the space, and people who have never read a book will be sitting in what should still be a bookshop.

I remember Dan coming home one day a few years ago and saying, I’ve got bad news and bad news. First, so and so is closing. (Oh I’ve forgotten the name! How sad is that? A famous bookshop that had been around for almost 70 years). The shop had looked exactly like the one in 24 Charring Cross Road – all wood shelves and creaking floors with a knowledgeable staff almost as old as the shop itself. All I could say was, “Oh no, another independent bites the dust.” (Line from You’ve Got Mail) And looking serious again, Dan asked, “Guess what’s replacing it”? He paused for effect. I shrugged, not wanting to know. “Starbucks!” The Starbucks is still there, of course, right at Yonge near Bloor, and I still refuse to set foot in it, no matter how pathetic my indignation seems. 

I’m sure the homework at St. Hildegarde’s has to be overwhelming. I didn’t see The Globe article, but I’m sure there has to be some limit. On the other hand, I am against the school board’s policy of not giving any homework. Isn’t it just as important as all the extracurricular activities most kids are signed up for? I think the issue, with a lot of parents, is not wanting to take the time to discipline the kids or to sit with them for an hour or so. I see parents everywhere, on the subway, on the street, pushing strollers and they’re all texting or talking on their cells. Please - how about talking to their kids who are often literally crying for attention.  

Have to end this now, even though I had a few more things to say about the merits of motivators - from Chapman’s ice cream to a glass of Pinot Grigio to a good book or all of the above. 

Indignant Sarah 

Sunday
Dec062009

Good Karma

Hi, 

I'm back. I meant to tell you about my week at school – good news for a change. Well the 12 U students are proving to be more and more amazing. They have finished reading the novel The Lovely Bones (ahead of schedule – a first) and their oral presentations, debates, and critical analyses are worthy of any class I’ve ever had. It’s almost as if fate has sent them to me in my last year, or maybe fate is telling me to unpack my boxes. But my in-the-head-cynic keeps reminding me not to get too sure of myself. Things can change very quickly.

On Friday, we had a guest speaker who gave a workshop on Meditation. I booked him because one of the themes in the novel is Grief: The 7 Stages of Grief, Dealing with Grief, How People Cope etc. I know they have found the read difficult at times in terms of subject matter, as many students have not had happy childhoods or easy lives. So I thought the workshop would do them good and perhaps inspire them. Well, he (Workshop Leader) was so impressed, and so was I. First, there was full attendance at 9 am and then their ability to focus was outstanding. He said it was the best class by far. He also noted the camaraderie and the rapport they had with each other and with me. Good karma, he said. I thought, wow, it takes a perfect stranger to notice and tell me that. In the meantime, our administration doesn’t even know what is going on in our classrooms. After class the students stood around discussing the merits of forgiveness –was it possible to forgive Abigail for abandoning her family? Why would anyone take her back? And I heard bits and pieces about why or why not and a few students spoke about how a parent leaving had affected their lives.

The big talk in class now is The Movie. I had scheduled Dec. 11, but of course, they did their research and they are right, it will not be released until early January. We also did pre-reading about the Montreal Massacre. (FROM CBC ARCHIVES)  

 A gunman confronts 60 engineering students during their class at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal on Dec. 6, 1989. He separates the men from the women and tells the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. The enraged man begins a shooting rampage that spreads to three floors and several classrooms, jumping from desk to desk while female students cower below. He roams the corridors yelling, "I want women." 

The novel begins with the main character, Susie Salmon, being killed on Dec. 6,  the same day as the massacre. Surely this was no coincidence.

Then at noon on Friday we attended the ceremony marking the 20th year of the massacre. Two benches were adorned with commemorative plaques at Hart House. One bench will display a plaque about remembrance, while the other will feature a plaque about the importance of action in making change

So it was quite a week for all of us. .

And, I’ll see you at 5 tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how Francine runs the class. She’ll probably have great material on the first night. 

Call me if there are any changes.

Karma-on-my-side Sarah 

Wednesday
Dec092009

D for dark days and kappa ma sushi for C

Hi Sarah,

It was Britnells! … Loved that place … and it did seem sacrilegious, when a few years ago I stepped into the Starbucks that replaced it. I can imagine why Dan was shocked. It's the times. It's always the times. Just last week we lost the Carlton Cinema but it's to become a classy playhouse theatre. Not a bad switch. Maple Leaf Gardens, I think, will become a Loblaws. Not sure how I feel about that one. Lots of ongoing activity at least, and it will never, ever, stand ghostly quiet again once those cash registers go non-stop, possibly 24/7.

I was so impressed with your Gr.12 U and your (and their) treatment of The Lovely Bones. It’s such an opportunity, to be able to work with that age group. I see a teacher in Etobicoke is teaching a history course, Genocide 101. Apparently the planning gives her nightmares and even male students cry: Rwanda, Jewish Holocaust, Armenian atrocities. This teacher, among other things, uses an interactive game Pax Warrior, and choices have to be made. You know you are making valuable contributions, Sarah. Demanding but also satisfying.

On a different dark note, my Candy (of phlox house) imparted some of her wonderful wisdom to me this afternoon as she performed her In the Forest piece for me. As I talked of the foreboding and the mysterious elements of the piece (the specific placement of minor chords), her brown eyes shone in anticipation of wanting to impart information. I felt privy to a complicity, as the words tumbled out, you must be talking about how people go into their dark side? Asking her to explain further, she said, well, they get grumpy, rude and mean ... all my siblings are teenagers ... my older brother is eighteen so that's not bad ... Oh, I said he must be over it now. Yes, she said, after that dark space they go to university. And will you be in that dark space too? I asked. The answer was a diplomatic one: yes but never as bad as my fifteen year old sister, this reiterated with a lot of eye rolling and many deliberate head swivels from left to right.

Trying to teach note reading is of course the biggest challenge for music teachers. If they have to stand on their heads to do it they will (well, the ones who truly care). Candy always tries her best and likes the reward of my dollar store stickers that are hers if the ten-note quiz is perfect. Reviewing the spaces in the bass clef the student usually associates the note names with a simple sentence such as 'All Cows Eat Grass" ... helpful to some extent. Improvising on this method, Candy was to quickly think up other words that started with the letter C, G, etc. as I pointed to the various spaces: I got kappa ma sushi for C, that's cucumber (she qualified). She laughed a silly laugh and maybe guacamole for G? A half hour flies by with students like her.

The holidays are looming large and the students of St. Hildegarde's will take off to their various destinations around the world, although many are opting to enjoy family and friends in the GTA. These days feel different: hordes of little ones running off to their grilled cheese and fries in the dining room, stamping their feet in crazy exuberance, Asian boarders belting out "Heart and Soul" on any available pianos like there’s no tomorrow; It's a Holly Jolly Christmas, Let it Snow, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, all plunked out note after laborious note on pianos everywhere, me eating heaps of onion rings, a comfort food treat served on stormy days by the kitchen staff, just for the teachers. The evidence is all there. Time for Christmas break.

Tallis Scholars were superb. I had never before seen Peter Phillips' unusual method of directing, subdividing each individual beat like that. Our pub on Prince Arthur wasn't too shabby either! Wine, beer and a fireplace. I loved it.

Adria                                               

Wednesday
Dec162009

Questions, questions, and more questions.

Hi, 

Wasn’t that class fun? And isn’t Mark P. a cutie? And isn’t he a little too young to be thinking of writing a memoir? What would he be remembering – trauma in his crib? Unless he experienced a memorable life altering episode (like an affair with an older woman perhaps) some time between kindergarten and now. I hope that hasn’t already happened. I’m sure we’ll find out. Francine was in her element, wasn’t she? Making sure she sat at the head of the table with her back to the wall (must be a teacher precaution), eyes flitting from face to face making sure we were all paying attention and no one talking out of turn (especially you!). I was thinking about our next assignment. Remember how in the last class, we always seemed to get the assignment wrong? We’d do our own thing and it would infuriate her. She wouldn’t last a day teaching high school. But I do love the unexpected and the drama. Probably the kids say the same thing about me ...  Let’s see if we can drive our crazy English teacher mad.  

Not sure if I love xmas or hate it. I know I used to love it. For some reason, it should all be easier now that the kids are older, but it seems more stressful. I think when there are children around, everything pretty well revolves around them and as parents we control it all. Now, there are too many schedules and we are the ones who have to fit in. Once we finish school on Friday, I’ll feel better, although I think I’m/we’re ready: the tree is up (actually fills the house with the smell of xmas), Dan has the outside finished (garland and lights), and I have most of the gifts wrapped, well actually bagged. It seems wrapping paper is passé. 

That’s pretty heavy stuff about little Candy and The Dark Space. Out of the mouths of babes … if her mother only knew what secrets she tells. I wonder what it’s all about. Fascinating, but sad at the same time.

Any plans for ‘bumping into’ Francis in the next few weeks?  I meant to ask why your sister entered the convent at 12. Wasn’t there an age factor?  How wrong to even consider taking girls that young. I guess the good Ursulines liked to mould them at an early age. I do remember our nuns ‘recruiting’ girls, but only in grade 12, I thought. My best friend at the time (the one I met this summer at Niagara Falls) was a favourite of theirs. But she got pregnant (and not by the Holy Spirit) and had to leave school before graduation. That was the end of her religious career.
 
After reading The Bishop’s Man (great timing) it is interesting to follow the 53 million dollar inquiry into the pedophile ring in Cornwall. The Catholic Church is being criticized for ’reluctance to act’. (sic/sick) Where have we heard that before? As far as the novel is concerned, I did find the main character, Duncan MacAskill, credible, but not memorable. On the other hand, I can remember almost everything about Sir Edward Feathers in Gardam’s FILTH. Maybe it isn’t fair to compare writers like this. After all one either enjoys a book or doesn’t. I just question the idea of all these prizes.
 

By the way, I am reading Gardam’s short stories and they are good overall, but in this case, I’m not quite as enthralled as you are about her writing. I find she uses such strange wording and sentence structure, which seem overdone at times. No doubt she has earned the right to experiment with language and will not be chastised for it. I’d like to try imitating one or two sentences for the class just to see what Francine says. 

I read a most interesting article in the U of T magazine on Agatha Christie and Alzheimer’s – the researcher found that there was a “staggering drop in vocabulary” in her second to last novel (she was 81 then), a “31% drop from 18 years earlier when she wrote Destination Unknown.”  And, also mentioned, was the fact that there was evidence of the disease in Iris Murdoch’s written work before her doctor diagnosed her.   

Not a happy note to end on, but interesting nonetheless. Have a good last few days. Maybe we can plan a little outing sometime next week. Yes?

Your-comrade-in-writing-Sarah

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