Thursday, October 22, 2015
1. The other day I wrote here about the shrinking Cleveland Plain Dealer--and about the paper's recent decision to use book reviews by writers on wire services rather than by local writers. (Link to that post.)
Yesterday, I got a message from a local journalist, Sam Allard (who'd also done some reviewing for the PD), who was working on a story about the situation for Cleveland Scene Magazine (link to their website). He wanted some more information, and he also let me know that he had talked to some folks at the PD, including my two most recent editors, Joanna Connors and John Kappes, both of whom I greatly admire and respect.
And I found out I'd been wrong--and, oh, am I glad I was! I'd said that the PD would not review books by local writers. Not true, it seems, and I am wonderfully happy about that. (Don't think I've ever been so glad to be wrong!)
I need to hasten to add as well: No one at the PD told me that these moves came to save expenses. Although (as I wrote the other day) I spoke with Joanna about the paper's decision to cease using freelancers (for the most part), the "saving money" part was my inference entirely.
But all PD regular readers (like me) know that the books coverage is a translucent shadow of its previous self: In the couple of years (or so?) the paper cut its Sunday space for book reviews from two pages to one (from six reviews to three). There is no full-time books editor (and no clerical assistant), and now the paper's publishing (mostly) reviews that have appeared elsewhere. I continue to think all of this is a shame--a loss for Cleveland. And always will.
But thanks to Sam for setting me straight. And--again--thanks to the PD for allowing me in its pages since 1980. It was a privilege I never took lightly.
(Link to Allard's piece.)
2. Yesterday, I called my mom (age 96), who now resides in an assisted living facility in Lenox, Mass. As some of you know, she was a secondary school English teacher for years, then returned to grad school in the late 1950s, eventually earning her Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, moving with my father to Drake University, where they both would retire in the late 70s, early 80s. (Dad was six years older than she.)
Anyway, my mom was very verbal--read all the time, published articles in professional journals, and the like.
So it's especially sad that her language is now betraying her.
Until late in 2010 we were regular email correspondents--and I would always get from her a handwritten card on holidays, sometimes letters she'd written on her computer.
But she gradually lost the ability to use her computer, and I have not received a card or letter (or phone call) from her in a long time. She just can't do it.
So I call and write letters every week.
In our call yesterday, I was telling her about her great-grandsons (6 and 10), who were already in the grips of Halloween-mania.
She said, "Well, that's to be ex...ef...exf ..." And on and on. I knew she was trying to say "expected," but it never really came out. After listening to about ten tries, I said, "Mom, it's all of those things."
And she laughed.
It's one of her most astonishing traits now, her ability to laugh at herself. I don't know how she does it. If I live long enough to lose the ability to do just about everything I once loved to do (as Mom has), they will have to medicate me--heavily. Otherwise, Dr. Jekyll being dead, I will be only my Mr. Hyde self. And he's a jerk.
But not Mom. She remains genial, self-deprecating, amused at her body's--and now mind's (and tongue's!)--betrayal. And once again, I stand in wonder in the presence of my mother.