Monthly Archive: July 2007

Dining on feedback

Even famous writers need appreciative readers. Joseph Conrad, author of Heart of Darkness, once said to his wife after she made what she believed were helpful comments on one of his drafts: “I don’t want your criticism, I want your praise.” Of all the people who’ve so far read Fantasy in Florence, the highest praise has come from a friend who enjoyed the last chapter best. “It’s a love story,” she said. “I cried at the end.” What author could hope for anything more! As a writer, I also work hard to get things right, so it has been a...

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The cost of Confederation

Michael Moore’s new movie “Sicko” favorably compares the Canadian health care system with the U.S. He reduces wait-times in our emergency rooms to mere moments, a nosestretcher equal to his claim in “Bowling for Columbine” that in crime-free Toronto everyone leaves their front door unlocked. Despite Moore’s ridiculous comparisons, we Canadians are nothing if not morally righteous about how much better off we are compared to Americans. Behind our phony facade, however, lurks a day-to-day dilemma that should have us up in arms: how much more expensive it is to live here than in the U.S. There’s been a lot...

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What’s it all about, Edgar?

It was only a matter of time before Edgar Bronfman Jr. sold his magnificent Upper East Side townhouse. Nothing in his life lasts for long. After Edgar Jr. married his second wife, Clarissa, in 1994, the next year he paid $4.375 million for what had been a five-storey nine-unit apartment building on 64th Street in the same block as Donatella Versace and Ivana Trump. Edgar Jr. and Clarissa spent two years on the design, two years on construction, finally moving in 1999 to the thirty-one foot wide home with its two-and-a-half story atrium containing a life-size Nigerian fertility statue. Three...

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Top Ten Secrets of Life

Numerous people have asked for a copy of my speech last month on the occasion of receiving an honorary degree from The University of Western Ontario. Here it is, minus a few minutes of introductory remarks: Convocation may seem like an ending, but it isn’t. It’s what you learn next that counts, and then what you learn after that. So here’s what you can learn today – here are my top ten secrets of life. Secret #1: Choose well. I’m talking about picking your spouse, partner, significant other, whatever description fits best in your case. This is absolutely the most...

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