Letter from Joy
May 1, 2018
It’s May 1st and, as promised, here I am!
Maybe now that it’s May, it can warm up. The weather so far this spring has been terrible. We actually had an ice storm here in Toronto a few weeks ago! And the snow stayed on the ground for a week! Even this past weekend was still bitter cold. My mother was certainly right about not changing a thread "till April is dead.” However, now that May has arrived, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and start changing my closets around, putting away all my winter clothes and rearranging everything for what I hope will be a long, hot summer. I’m also trying not to buy too much new stuff, as I already have more than I need, and I’m finding everything increasingly, and ridiculously, expensive.
Not sure if it’s the weather that’s responsible, but I’ve had a few unpleasant weeks, health-wise. Nothing serious, just a forty-eight hour bug that put me flat on my back for a few days, followed several days after I recovered by a nasty cold that seems intent on sticking around. Can’t stop blowing my nose, although at least I’m starting to feel human again. Still, I haven’t had a lot of energy, so other than working - at a snail’s pace - on my new book, I really haven’t done much, and that includes exercising and going out. Haven’t been to a movie in what feels like forever. Night comes and I’m in bed by nine o’clock. Only The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills can get me to stay up till ten.
In the midst of these ailments, we went to Vancouver for the annual meeting of a company my husband is involved with. It’s a long flight (five-plus hours) and it was made even longer by a malfunction with the instrument panel, so after waiting on the tarmac for over an hour for maintenance to come fix the problem, we ended up having to deplane and wait for another plane to become available. Ultimately we were three hours late leaving, which made us two hours late for our dinner reservations with friends. Happily, it all worked out, although we were exhausted. The next day, Warren had business meetings and I went for a very long walk with a girlfriend, followed by a lovely lunch at Joe Forte’s, something of a Vancouver institution. The next day I went to the art gallery and saw a fascinating exhibit by the Japanese painter Takashi Murakami. Then I went into Nordstrom’s and bought a summer dress. (What did I just say about not buying a lot of new stuff?) That evening, while Warren was attending dinner meetings, I got to see my niece, Caroline, who also happened to be in Vancouver on business. We went to a restaurant called Coast for dinner and had some fabulous fish. The next day was the company’s annual general meeting and, as always, it was fascinating. Then it was a quick lunch and off to the airport to come home. There wasn’t anything on the in-flight movies I wanted to see, and I’d already watched “Wonder” with Julia Roberts on the way there. “Wonder” was pretty much what I’d expected, a mediocre movie with an excellent cast. But it was so predictable and so manipulatively heart-warming that it actually started having the opposite effect. While I enjoyed the first half, the second half of the movie was just too, too much.
My friend in Vancouver recommended a number of books, and I’ll pass those recommendations on to you. They are: MANHATTAN BEACH by Jennifer Egan; RULES OF CIVILITY and A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, both by Amor Towles; and KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann, the last one being a work of non-fiction. I rushed out and bought all four upon my return to Toronto, and hope to start reading them soon. In the meantime, I’m reading a yet-to-be-published update of REBECCA called THE WINTERS by Toronto water Lisa Gabrielle. So far, s good.
I’m also happy to report that my own book, THE BAD DAUGHTER, is still on the bestseller lists and doing very well. So, a big thank you to all those of you who purchased copies, and especially to those who have taken the time to let me know your thoughts. There are still plenty of copies available, so if you haven’t bought one yet, I hope you will. I’m getting near the end of the book I’m working on now, and hope to have it completed by the end of June, so it should be in stores in the spring of next year. I’m really excited about this one, but don’t want to say too much yet.
As for my beautiful daughters, Annie seems very happy in her new job, and Shannon is off to not one, but two, destination weddings this month! One is in the Bahamas, the other in San Diego, where she’s also serving as a bridesmaid. My next trip isn’t till the end of the month when Warren and I are off to a resort in Quebec - part meetings, part golf - for four or five days. (So my next letter probably won’t be till we get back.)
I want to take a moment now and comment on the horrific events that occurred in Toronto last week, while we were in Vancouver. I’m referring to the murder of ten people and the wounding of many others by an angry young man who drove his rented van into a bunch of pedestrians on a busy street in the north end of the city. At first, of course, there were worries about terrorism and ISIS, but it turned out it was just another disaffected young man resentful of the happiness of others, especially women he felt had always rejected him, and intent on getting even. This sort of violence is so foreign to our wonderful city, although it is something of a wake-up call, letting us know that we are not immune to acts of senseless rage. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families. Hopefully such horror will never happen in our city again. But I do think we have to address the main problem here. And that problem is men. While most men are kind and decent human beings, the fact is that almost every single crime of this nature, and virtually all mass killings, are perpetrated by men. Why? Where does this level of rage come from? While women are certainly not immune to committing crimes of violence, they make up a tiny, tiny fraction of the perpetrators, and almost always kill their intimates. Men, however, kill often and often indiscriminately. I’m not a sociologist, but something is clearly wrong here. What is it about the male psyche that makes them so prone to violence? What, if anything, can we do about it?
So, in closing, I’m going to quote my five-year-old granddaughter, Skylar. I spent the day with my grandchildren on Sunday, and as I was leaving the apartment to pick up dinner for everyone, she turned to me and said, “Nana, be safe and be kind.” Words to live by. So, to you, I say the same: be safe and be kind.
Until next month,