Thursday, 7 July 2016


Those who may have read my first blog, "Some Words on Books," may remember my writing about the blowup in my Reader Redux Toronto bookclub, in May.  One month on, I still smart from that.  It set me musing on how a seemingly small nastiness can worm its way into your thinking and your days.  The woman in question has not communicated, but is supposedly seeing a film tonight at my expense (in the good days, I booked a ticket for her.)  Another woman has left the group, because, so she writes, the books were not to her taste.  In future I should present a proposed list to the members, or have them suggest titles, which is often done elsewhere.  

It is now only one month until our holiday in England.  It will be an active and stimulating two weeks, with several productions (in Cambridge, Chichester and London), museums, parks, and, of course, bookshops.

I went to see the new Jane Austen film Love and Friendship last week at the Toronto International Film Festival hall (the Festival is not on until September, incidentally).  I was very much impressed by the film, especially by the young actors.  One young actor from Northern Ireland, Conor MacNeill, had a small role as a young curate, to whom the widow heroine, Lady Susan, appeals when her emotions threaten to get the best of her.  His scene happens in a church, and for a moment my heart stopped.  "Good heavens," said I to myself, "there is my relative Robert on the screen!"  My relative Robert, two years my junior, is an Anglican priest in the west of England.  Conor and Robert could be identical twins, in speech, appearance and profession!

The blight to which I allude above spread its gloom.  I withdrew from the Meetup groups which the second lady and I shared; I guess I am a coward.  I really was looking forward to the discussion in James's Classic Book Club of Pearl Buck's Pulitzer Prize winner The Good Earth (1931); I am reading it for the third time, over two decades or so.  The copy I bought recently is a Pocket Book (remember those?) printed in 1961.  At that time my copy, a mint one, cost the huge sum of thirty-five cents.  My favourite used bookstore asked for five dollars for it.  Changed days!

The blight has also caused me to realize again -- and appreciate always -- my real friends.  Recently, thanks to Facebook (which I hitherto disliked) I have linked up with friends in Calgary, my hometown, whom I have know for fifty years.  Thank you to I, M. P. H. and M.  

I am still in search of a good congregation.  

Monday, 20 June 2016

Some words on books

I never thought I would start a blog, but since several persons whom I respect have blogs, it might be worthwhile.  I have just done two lectures for Toronto Public Library's Great Books series, one on John Bunyan and one on Sinclair Lewis.  There were about thirty people in attendance for each, and they seem to have been well received.  At the Sinclair Lewis lecture was the son (I think) of the donor -- TPL had been given a substantial donation to keep the Great Books series running for several years.  This man came with his wife and three teenagers, who were very pleasant young folk and who did not fall asleep!  The last of this year's series is on June 23, on Ibsen's A Doll's House, which, appropriately enough, is being performed by Soulpepper later in the summer.

James Matthews came to both talks, which was good of him.  In the Bunyan talk he made a point about one scene being similar to one in The Wizard of Oz, and I told him he was stealing my thunder!  At the time it was amusing, but it is annoying when it happens repeatedly.  Last year after I closed The Others Book Club, he appropriated Bambi for his Classic Book Club.  Of course the book is for anyone, but I don't think he would have thought of it had I not done so first.  This year he is thinking of doing Sinclair Lewis's Main Street, and the same thing applies -- he would not have thought of it had I not done so first.  I find this irritating, but I don't think James gets the point.  He complains in his blog about receiving six books for the American group for next year -- at least, I think he is complaining.

On May 29 we had a big blowup in Reader Redux Toronto, with one lady being especially obnoxious in her behaviour.  To my astonishment, none of the other members, male or female, called her on it.  I wrote, after four drafts (!), a direct statement of how I felt, which elicited no reply.  She was going to leave the club, so I removed her.  There is a word for this sort of behaviour; it begins with 'b.'

We are going to interview a young woman who will catsit for us while we are on holiday in August. This person comes much recommended by our animal hospital staff.  She will come to our condo, which is much more suitable for our shy but beautiful little cat.

On Saturday we went to see Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman in Genius, about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins of Scribner's and Thomas Wolfe.  The film is based on A. Scott Berg's biography of Perkins, which won the National Book Award.  I was very interested to see the portrait of Wolfe, a writer who interests me; we shall be reading Look Homeward, Angel in my new American reading group next year.  The performances and design were all excellent, except that Kidman seems to be typecast as nasty women.  She seemed just to walk through her role.  It was the first feature film by British theatre director Michael Grandage, whose A Midsummer Night's Dream we saw in London three years ago.