Monday 19 December 2016


This psychological thriller is all about relationships with others (or is it with the self?). The surprise ending will answer that question. Either way, Jake (the protagonist of the story, shall we say) is right:
Forfeiting solitude or independence is a much greater sacrifice than most of us realize… It’s not unlike religion and God. We believe in certain constructs that help us understand life…The idea that
we are better off with one person for the rest of our lives is not an innate truth of existence. It’s a belief we want to be true.
Without the Other, so much of life felt accidental, unnecessary, arbitrary. It’s been lacking a dimension. Then again, a real relationship -- when there is dependence, when something is at stake – may involve the loss of the self.
We get at the truest version of ourselves …when we are not diluted by the Other’s presence and judgments…Only when we are alone can we focus on ourselves, know ourselves.
What does Jake tell us about his Other? He called me a compressed Uma Thurman she says. He never called me sexy… He called me pretty and he said “beautiful” once or twice, the way guys do. Once he called me therapeutic.
The key to understanding Reid’s novel is the phrase: You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.
But you know what? I think all thoughts are fake. That’s what makes them thoughts rather than observations. They have no independent existence. They serve only as tools to interpret the world.

And even so, we can’t understand the world through rationality, not entirely. We depend on symbols for meaning…This integration reflects the way our minds work, the way we function and interact; our split between logic, reason, and something else, something close to feeling, or spirit. There’s a word that will probably make you bristle.

Friday 16 December 2016

#AMREADING David Gilmour’s The Perfect Order of Things

Autobiographies are often brag-sheets. This one is different. Gilmour revisits his failures.
One of life’s great pleasures lies in giving the bird to people and places where you were once a flop. Fuck you, May-Lou, and so on. But with the greying of my hair I have discovered that it’s a little more complicated than that. For one thing, your body remembers failures more easily than success – especially youthful failures:
She went up the Ferris wheel with me as my girlfriend and when she came back down, she was someone else’s. It was the first romantic betrayal of my life.
It’s doubly painful because having a beautiful girlfriend is a certain kind of delicious when you’re young.
Boarding school was another place of failure Gilmour had to live down. Suddenly he was one of those guys, along with the chronic masturbators and pimple squeezers and unloved children whose parents plied the civil service in Nairobi or Senegal or East Timor… those dandruffy, never-have-a-date, sad sack pooches you saw doing their homework on a Friday night!
Years later he meets someone at a reception who has climbed past him on the career ladder and remembers his mistakes: His face hardens with politeness…You don’t talk to guys like that, you banter.
Drinking is a great cure for what ails you, but what’s the cure for a hangover? For some people it’s great literature.  I lay on my side like a wounded animal, waiting to be rescued by sleep’s second act which didn’t’ come. I opened War and Peace and, facing the white stucco wall, sweat already dribbling across my chest, began to read.

Gilmour still has his old copy of War and Peace. I have a check mark beside the paragraph where, even in the roller-coaster grip of a white rum hangover, I began to pay acute attention.

Monday 5 December 2016


And George Walker’s new play The Damage Done isn’t one of them. Maybe that’s the explanation for the curmudgeonly review in the Globe & Mail. I guess no one wants to listen to a bitch abusing her useless but loveable ex. He is dreaming of what he could do instead of what he should do-- like being a father to his daughters. No, she gets no sympathy even if she is the one who is suicidal, while he nicely muddles through life, preferably on workman’s compensation.  Even if she’s been juggling single parenthood, career moves, and boyfriends, and can’t take the pressure anymore. No, we don’t want to hear about that, even if the acting is first-rate. Now if Walker had played it for laughs or – even better – turned it into a musical, busloads would have come to see his play. But an honest examination of Life Sucks, and this in the season of jingle bells? What were you thinking of, Walker?

But seriously: This is the best play I’ve seen in some time. Wish Toronto would offer more of the same. And bonus: Ken Gass is directing!

Saturday 3 December 2016


Happenings on a short ride home between University and Parliament:

Cheerful black woman gets on and shouts Seat! Someone dutifully gets up and offers her a seat. Next request: Mr Driver, I’m totally lost. You tell me when Jarvis comes up, Mr. Driver. He doesn’t but an electronic voice and several passengers do.

Angry woman gets on announcing I’m a Lesbian. There is no marriage. Leave my body alone!

TTC checker gets on and demands proof of fare from her. I’m a Lesbian, she tells him. There is no marriage, understand? There is no marriage!!

He moves on to the next passenger, an old man wearing red Santa Claus gloves. He raises a jittery hand and points to heaven.

The checker moves on to the cheerful black woman. I’m totally lost, she tells him. 

I take pity on him and show him my transfer. He nods. I guess he’s used to this scene. One out of four passengers co-operating is probably the norm.

Which reminds me of an item in the local news. A woman of Asian origin was harassed at the bank by a fellow customer who railed at her and called her a chink. She complained that no one, including the staff at the bank, came to her help. I don’t think it was a matter of standing up to a bigot. It was a matter of standing up to a disturbed man. I myself wouldn’t confront him. Sorry. Not even the TTC checker has the guts to do that.