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Week 33: The Bell Jar

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs . . ." So begins The Bell Jar, with an opening sentence that foreshadows events to come. Such a sentence promises the reader we are in for a remarkable story. If only the book lived up to that promise. If only its author [...]

By | 2018-01-30T13:20:57+00:00 January 30th, 2018|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Week 32: Lord of the Flies

It kept coming to me while reading Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House - the similarities between the chaos, duplicity and treachery taking place in Washington and William Golding's tale of a group of children marooned on a tropical island. Lord of the Flies is a world without grown-ups - as, [...]

By | 2018-01-23T16:06:48+00:00 January 23rd, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

How stress can make you sick – a personal story

When the doctor at the walk-in clinic asked me about my cholesterol, I brushed it off as usual. “I’m fine,” I said. “How do you know?” I told him I’d always been within the normal range for everything – cholesterol, blood pressure, kidney function, blood sugar. I’m a healthy person. I exercise regularly, eat little [...]

By | 2018-01-18T18:54:07+00:00 January 18th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 31: A Confederacy of Dunces

Right off the bat I have to tell you that A Confederacy of Dunces is not - I repeat, not - about the American presidency. How could it be? Its author died in 1969, when Donald Trump was 23 ... long before anyone could have predicted that this draft-dodging ladies' man would one day be [...]

By | 2018-01-16T21:25:27+00:00 January 16th, 2018|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Week 30: Love in a Cold Climate

Are you old enough to remember the Wayback machine? I mean, before it became the name for an archive of web pages on the internet? The original Wayback machine was a plot device on The Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show; Mr. Peabody, the world's smartest beagle, and his pet boy, Sherman, would set the machine [...]

By | 2018-01-09T17:28:52+00:00 January 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Week 28: Re-reading Little Women, or how to ruin a great childhood memory

Concord, Massachusetts in the mid-19th century was an exciting place to be, if you were of a thoughtful bent. For a small town, it was home to a substantial collection of philosophers and writers, the most prominent being Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the leading lights of the Transcendentalist movement. Emerson's neighbours included Henry David [...]

By | 2017-12-19T15:48:51+00:00 December 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Week 26: Sin and The Scarlet Letter

I confess to having a link - an extremely tenuous one, I admit - to the author of The Scarlet Letter. Sarah Averill Wildes, my eighth great-aunt, was hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts, on the 19th of July, 1692. Her crime, they said, was witchcraft. One of the men who sent her there [...]

By | 2017-12-05T17:31:02+00:00 December 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|4 Comments