Letter from Joy
February 21, 2021
A short letter for a short month. And for readers of the column I wrote on the pandemic for the Toronto Star, you’ve undoubtedly already read more than enough of my grumbling. I recognize that most people are having it a lot worse than I am, but the column was specifically about how the pandemic has impacted my life, and I tried to be as honest as I could. I want to thank all of you who wrote to say how much they appreciated my honesty. Those notes meant a lot to me, as do all the emails I receive from readers. Like most of you, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the vaccines. Not that there will be anything to do or anywhere to go for some months yet, but at least one level of anxiety will be reduced. Unfortunately, nothing can bring back the time lost not seeing family and friends. I particularly lament the time lost with my grandchildren as they are growing up so fast and there's only so much time left, at least at my age. I find it amazing that even though there’s little to do, time is still flying by. Soon it will be March!
I actually went for a Covid test last week because I had been feeling tired and achy the week before, so I called my doctor and he suggested I take the test. Normally, I wouldn’t even have called him, but because the symptoms with Covid are all over the place, I decided to have the test, even though, by this time, I was feeling fine. So I made an appointment and went the next day - and thankfully, as expected, the test was negative. And for those of you who are concerned about taking the test because you think it will be painful, let me assure you that it was nothing. The doctor warned me that it might feel a little uncomfortable, but it honestly didn’t. And it was over in seconds. Really - no big deal at all.
Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot else to tell you about. One day continues to be pretty much the same as the day before. I continue to go on long, daily walks, and read whenever I have enough energy. I tried reading Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY, but gave up after about 200 pages. She’s one of those writers who never uses ten words when she can use a hundred, so I find the novel grossly overwritten. Also, the so-called American college students she’s writing about are like no college students I've ever met. They sound as if they came out of turn-of-the-century England instead of the U.S. of twenty-odd years ago, so I didn’t believe them for a second. Also, because the story is told in the first person, much of the interesting action is relayed second-hand and so loses any sense of immediacy. Having said this, I was amazed the author was able to keep me reading for 200 pages. And I have to admit I’m in the minority here with my assessment as the book was universally praised when it first came out. But reading is very subjective and clearly one person’s feast is another person’s poison. (I don’t think that’s the correct expression, but my mind has pretty much turned to mush these days, so it’s the best I can do.) I also tried reading A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES but stopped very quickly. I may give it another go at some point, but right now, it’s not for me. Having more luck with THE POISONWOOD BIBLE, another classic from the past. I really wish the bookstores would reopen so I could browse in person and buy some of the current novels. Guess I’ll just have to write my own.
Speaking of which, I actually have a new idea and am ready to begin. I’ve written an outline and the first chapter, and now just need to work up the drive and discipline to get down to work. My next novel, CUL-DE-SAC, will be published on August 8 in the U.S. and likely a few weeks after that in Canada, and sometime in the fall in Germany. Not sure yet when it will be available in other markets. Also, as I may have reported last month, Simon&Schuster is reissuing WHISPERS AND LIES in the spring, which is great news, and Penguin Random House in Canada will be rereleasing mass market versions of THE BAD DAUGHTER and SOMEONE IS WATCHING around the same time.
I finished watching all seven seasons of Sons of Anarchy, which I loved. So well-constructed and written. Getting totally fed up with The Bachelor franchise. It’s the same thing season after season. Enough! And what’s with all the game shows? Can’t stand them. As for sit-coms, does nobody know how to be funny anymore? Tried watching Call Your Mother, but it was pathetic, and Mom, which I used to love, has really deteriorated. A few good dramas on the air, but they’re few and far between.
Anyway, enough complaining, I hope you stay safe and healthy and that we all get vaccinated soon, so we can put this nightmare behind us. In the meantime, be kind to yourself and others.