Saturday, November 12, 2005


I started reading Didion's memoir around 10:30 last night and stayed up until I finished it at 2:30 this morning. She begins by suggesting that "life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant." And, anyone, who has experienced an unexpected death in their life will nod in agreement. Didion's world changed on December 30, 2003 when her husband of 40 years, John Gregory Dunne, suffered a "massive coronary event" at the dinner table in their New York apartment.

What compelled me to continue reading in addition to my own experience with the ongoing grief journey was Didion's "cool customer" approach to retelling the emotional upheaval of the first year of new loss. Hers was complicated by the fact that her only child, Quintana, was in a coma at the same time. Unthinkable timing.

As Didion soldiers on to accommodate the loss in her life she offers the following sage advice: "...if we are to live ourselves, there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead. Let them become the photograph on the table. Let them become the name on the trust accounts. Let go of them in the water."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

CUTTY, ONE ROCK by August Kleinzahler

As one of the blurbs on the back of this memoir attests, "this is a beautiful book-- mournful, swaggering, bleak, hilarious-- full of piercing and often loving assessments of life and art." What moved me most was the title piece about Kleinzahler's doomed and big-hearted brother, which reminded me of my own brother who died young in 1994.

Eerily, I find myself in Kleinzahler's description of his own teenaged self and how he related to his only brother as I did mine: "I couldn't have made for very thrilling company. But he always acted glad to see me...'You'll be all right,' he'd say smiling. 'Let's go out and see if we can't find ourselves a drink.' I miss having someone like that in my life. I miss it like a limb."

And I still do.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

GLENN by David Young

This play by Toronto playwright David Young explores the aspects of Gould's intriguing personality which he scripts as the Prodigy, Performer, Perfectionist and Puritan. Each character manages to play independently yet paradoxically be utterly entwined, since the conceit of the play is that we are inside Glenn Gould's head. The clever underlying framework for the piece is Bach's "The Goldberg Variations" which made Gould an international star.


Toronto novelist Joe Fiorito's book THE SONG BENEATH THE ICE is quintessentially Canadian in theme and content. An eccentric concert pianist reminiscent of Glenn Gould goes missing after he bounds from a fundraising performance at the AGO. His close childhood friend receives a series of audiotapes and journals in the mail and is compelled to try to discover why the pianist disappeared and where he has gone.

Friday, November 04, 2005

THE WONDER SPOT by Melissa Bank

Melisaa Bank found international attention with her first book of stories called THE GIRLS GUIDE TO HUNTING AND FISHING. In her new collection of linked stories, THE WONDER SPOT, Sophie Applebaum faces trials and tribulations in the grown-up working world of New York City advertising and publishing. For those of you who came of age in the early 1980s, Bank's new book will have particular resonance.