Book launch season. We’re celebrating the publication of a scholarly tome. We’ve got Chinese in white take-out boxes with chopsticks. Outside, the art critic in her wide-brimmed hat works furiously on her cell phone; she is in a panic to find her husband.
Inside, and unaware that he is missing, the ever-cheerful husband zips around, his belly nicely balanced by a large, round, bald head. He carries an umbrella although it isn’t raining. He emanates man-about-town. But he has a paper napkin stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
One beautiful night this summer we sat in the garden with friends. Some were seventy-two and some were twenty-two. No-one had an ereader. But everyone had an opinion.
To E or not to E. That is the question. We are all quite sick of it. A fury of discussion about books accompanies their (apparent) last days on earth.
Ottawa Citizen, August 19 2006
In 1989 I visited Boris Pasternak's dacha at the writers' colony of Peredelkino, an hour's drive from Moscow. It is a simple pine house stripped of all but the essentials- there was a desk, and a chair, a window looking out on a similarly bare but beautiful landscape: flat fields, skeletal trees, a road stretching away. There was a worn staircase to a bed upstairs. Its plainness was the sort that offered a vision of simplicity that cries out to any writer. Would that life could be that way, when you sat down to work each day!