Monday, November 12, 2007

All readers; all levels.

My website has finally been updated, and there's now a list of new reviews in the "Book" section. Mmmm - all those lovely words of praise - does the soul good. There's also a brand new review of my "labor of love" in "Choice", a magazine for libraries, which ends, "Recommended. All readers; all levels." Bliss.

I was at a thrilling event last week, a celebration of the U of T's Random House writing competition. One of the winners was Gillian Kerr, who came to my class at Ryerson ten years ago and continued for years in my home class. Gillian is an example of what a busy person can accomplish with grit and focus; she has a high level, extremely demanding executive job in a giant grocery chain, and yet has never stopped writing; one of her personal essays was chosen for the third "Dropped Threads" anthology and now she is studying fiction writing at U of T. I am always sorry to lose a superb non-fiction writer to fiction but with a $500 cheque to celebrate, obviously it's working for her. Next time one of my students whines about having no time to write, I will point to Gillian.

And tonight I'm at a celebration of a Ryerson writing competition. Competitions are valuable in the writing world; they give us a deadline and a goal. Next week the Vancouver Jewish Book Fair, where I have been allotted 30 to 35 minutes to tell the story of this book, which usually takes an hour. I'll think I'll just speak really fast.

It's finally a true November day, yellow maple leaves whirling by the window as I write. Nothing more Canadian than that. Happy November to you all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Noo Yawk in springtime

Big news: I have been invited to speak about the book at the 92nd Street Y in New York. April 8th, 2008: mark it on your calendar. This Y is the epicentre of literary cultural activity in Manhattan and the absolutely perfect place to present the book, so I am very pleased about this engagement. Plus, any excuse to go to New York is fine with me - museums, theatre, Bloomingdales, the Stuart Weitzman shoestore on Madison Avenue (mecca for the big-footed woman), and the Sunday morning Columbus Avenue Flea Market - here I come! Oh yes, and the 92nd Street Y. My Cousin Ted's where I stay is only sixteen blocks away so I can walk to work.

We are midway through the teaching term and as always, I am in love with all my students, now at both U of T and Ryerson - their courage, humour, depth. How lucky I am to have a job that brings me joy; I hope I manage to impart some back to the classes. U of T has already set up an Autobiography II - an advanced course either for former students who want to go on working with me, or for new students whose style will fit with the old bunch. If you're interested in finding out more, please check the U of T Continuing Studies website:

It is now officially fall, at last - and though I loved the glorious sunshine of the past month, it was just too wierd. As I rode my bike in a t-shirt at the end of October, I kept thinking about the overheated polar bears. Now it's normal out there - grey and bone-chilling. As it should be. This is Canada, after all.