Joy Fielding

Letter from Joy

September 28, 2020

Hi, everyone,
And once again, my sincere apologies for being so late with this letter. I honestly have no idea where the time goes or what I’ve been doing. One day is pretty much the same as the next, and aside from mountains of grocery shopping and housework - which I confess, I’m not used to doing - and approximately three golf games a week and two-hour walks with my sister on days I’m not golfing, I’m really not doing much of anything. Even reading is an effort, although I’ve read a number of books lately. And yet, I’m exhausted!

The two most recent books I’ve read are Fredrik Backman’s latest, ANXIOUS PEOPLE, and Carl Hiassen’s newest effort, SQUEEZE ME. AT first I wasn’t thrilled with ANXIOUS PEOPLE. I found it too self-conscious and heavy on the whimsy, but because I normally like Backman - BEAR TOWN remains one of my all-time favorite novels - I persevered. Normally, this effort doesn’t pay off. I find if I didn’t like the first hundred pages, I’m generally not going to feel differently about the rest, but around page 200, he did something that surprised me, which I always like, and after that, everything kind of fell into place, and I ended up liking the book quite a bit, although I still could have done with a little less whimsy. As for SQUEEZE ME, it’s a total delight. Hiassen is a wonderful writer - funny, sharp, and smart. The plot is too wacky to describe, but has to do with a bunch of giant pythons and a certain obvious, if nameless, president. I laughed out loud many times, something else I always like and appreciate in a novel.

As for my own writing, the copy-edited version of my new manuscript is ready for me to go over - answer any questions, make necessary corrections and note those already made, plus make any additions or subtractions I feel are warranted - which I’ll be doing over the next few weeks. The novel itself is called CUL-DE-SAC and centres on five families who live on a small, dead-end street in Palm Beach Gardens. It’s scheduled to be published in the spring of 2021, and I hope you’ll like it. I honestly feel it’s one of my very best. (I probably say that about every book, but it’s really true this time!)

Like most of the world, I’ve been watching an inordinate amount of television, although I’ve given up on a few shows that seemed promising, like “Fargo." It reminded me of why I stopped watching the updated limited series Perry Mason after a few episodes - an over-concentration on style and not enough sympathetic characters or involving plot. The new series I’m enjoying most so far are the ones that don’t take themselves so seriously: "Filthy Rich" and "Why Women Kill." And I find "The Third Day" interesting enough to keep watching. I also like the game show Twenty-Five Words or Less. I’m a big fan of Bill Mahr, but now that he’s back in the studio, someone should instruct the small studio audience to stop clapping every time they hear a thought they agree with. Its very annoying. Of course, John Oliver is always worth a look. I really missed the Toronto Film Festival this year, and I miss going to the movies! Not that there’s much to see - I must be one of the few people who isn’t wowed by Christopher Nolan and have zero interest in “Tenet.” Hopefully, the movie business will be back in business sooner than later.

Thankfully, I’m starting to feel vague stirrings in my subconscious regarding a new project, although nothing concrete yet. Hopefully by the new year - and won’t we all be glad to see the end of this one - several ideas will have coalesced and combined and I’ll be ready to start something new. But right now, inertia seems to be the order of the day. I wake up between 7 and 8, exercise for half an hour, have breakfast, read my daily two papers, and do every word and number puzzle they contain, then either go for my aforementioned walk or play golf, etc. etc. This weekend we’re making the four-hour drive to see my younger daughter and her family, and we’ll be there for three nights. I miss my grandchildren terribly now that I don’t get to see them every week. They’re being virtual-schooled for the foreseeable future and apparently are loving it. So that’s good. And my daughter is doing contract work for the foreseeable future, hoping the job she moved for will be back in play when - and if - things ever return to normal. Unfortunately we’re at the beginning of Covid’s second wave and the numbers are both alarming and climbing higher every day, mostly due to the relaxation of safety measures and people returning to work and school. I still don’t understand people’s reluctance to wear masks in public, which is the very least we as a society can do. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is not a matter of personal freedom; it is not politics; it is a matter of life and death. To steal a line from an article I read, just because you have the right to drive a car does not give you the right to drive with your eyes closed! At least here in Canada, it’s only a small number of selfish people who refuse to consider those around them. So please, wear a mask, get you flu shot, and save the parties until after we find a vaccine.

And that’s about it for now. I’ll try not to be so late next month. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy.