Friday, November 8, 2013

Two Books, One Hand

by Jean Roberta

Several weeks ago, I agreed with erotic writer Zander Vyne to do a review exchange: Zander sent me a PDF of his/her recent collection of stories, Amaranthine Rain (Burning Book Press) so that I could review it, and I sent Zander a PDF of my recent story collection: The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales from the Torrid Past (Lethe Press).

So far, Zander’s stories are as scintillating as dark jewels. The narrators are varied, but each seems completely authentic. Zander plays with various flavours of “noir.” In “Tricked,” a hard-boiled PI goes to Las Vegas in search of a young woman that no one else cares about, and he finds that he can’t forget her. In the fairy tale,“Amethyst’s Feather,” Princess Amethyst discovers her true desire in the deep dark woods. In the title story, “Amaranthine Rain,” a fairly typical middle-class American man named Jack (a lawyer, like several other characters in these stories) has an epiphany about his life and his marriage when he and his wife Diane are literally lost in a storm at sea.

Stay tuned for the full review.

I rarely have time to read hard-cover books on topics beyond erotic and LGBT subject-matter, but my last few days in the hospital gave me the time to crack open a hefty biography of a brave mover and shaker, Florence Bean James, who (together with her equally multi-faceted husband, Burton James) set up community theatres in Boston in the 1920s, and then in Seattle, Washington, until government persecution in the McCarthy Era drove them out of the U.S. to Saskatchewan, the most left-leaning province in Canada of the time. While other social activists were planning the health-care system that became reality in 1962 (a kind of early model of Obamacare, based on Britain’s socialized health care system of 1948), the Jameses were instrumental in setting up arts organizations here, including the Sask Arts Board and several theatre groups.

Fists Upon a Star, Florence James’ moving autobiography, was finally produced after her death with help from a local writer, Jean Freeman. It was launched at the local Globe Theatre (one of the institutions inspired by the Jameses) by the publisher, the newly-named University of Regina Press. I went to the launch and bought a copy.

I didn’t know when I would have time to read this tome, but fate intervened.

On Monday, November 4, I was walking home from the bus stop when I slipped on snow-covered ice within sight of my house. My right hand clutched my briefcase, and my left hand went out to brace myself. I landed on my bum (a natural flesh airbag) and my left wrist, which was broken in several places. I went home, caught a taxi to the hospital, got X-rayed and was scheduled for emergency surgery the next day.

My spouse came to see me from the conference she was attending in another town, and my two stepsons rushed to my side. My family, the hospital staff, and the surgeon who put a metal plate and 11 screws in my wrist (an expert in this type of fine work) were all amazing. I don’t think I could have been treated better.

My colleagues and department head at the university have handled my classes all this week. Apparently it takes a village to handle a slip-and-fall accident. Now I know that my support system is much more solid than my bones!

I’m typing this with one hand. (Luckily, I’m right-handed.) I seem to be recovering well, and I look forward to the use of two hands on a keyboard.


  1. Ouch, ouch ouch, Jean! When I saw one-handed reading, I was sure you were talking about something else. ;>)
    The James' sound like pretty cool people. The U.S. loss was Canada's gain, apparently. Say Hi to Zander for me.

  2. Hope you are well on the road to recovery - too bad this country waited so long for a decent Health Care programme - now it's just seen as a commie/muslim/kenyan/you name it plot to put grandma in an early grave.

  3. Yes, JP- Especially since it was first trotted out by Republicans as their compromise in lieu of a single-payer system. It's just that some people can't abide anything positive happening on a black man's watch.

  4. More of the anti-health care lobby in the U.S. should ask us Canadians what a relief it is to have free health care when we need it. (On this subject, there is an excellent medical doctor/politician here in Sask named Ryan Meili who has written on the subject. He ran for leadership of the local New Democratic Party, furthest-left of the major political parties, but he lost by a few votes.) Luckily, public health care is now such a tradition here that the only way to get rid of it would be to gradually water it down by bringing in private services & underfunding the existing system. Calling it a Muslim/Kenyan thing would prob. land a person in a mental health-care facility. :)

  5. glad you're feeling better, but sorry to hear about your fall on the ice. i have been eying up Zander's book & now it's on my wish list. thanks for the tantalizing notes...

  6. Hi Jean!

    I guess this gives new meaning to the term "One handed read". Things happen so quickly, I hope you get better soon.


  7. Ouch! Take care!

    I thought I had a PDF copy of The Princess and the Outlaw (sent from Lethe via the Box system) and was reminded by your post that I should read and review it, but Box wouldn't let me download it. I'll get it on my own soon.


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