Thursday, October 29, 2020

Terrorism and my experience

It seems to me that all the present talk about Islamic terrorism in connection with the knife attacks in France is a misnomer. Drawing on my own experiences as an immigrant, albeit from the same civilisation, but a different culture and language,  despairing bewilderment left me  no choice but to commit suicide. I took the lift to the top of a skyscraper intending to jump.  Looking down from a great height, I got scared that I wouldn't die but break my spine and would become a cripple and spend miserable life in a wheelchair.   

The next best thing to suicide is killing somebody.  What saved me from becoming a murderer was that I had been writing poetry since the age of four  which had grown into an ambition to become a great writer.  Learning the language and writing in English was preferable to a miserable life in a wheelchair. 

My guess is that terrorists are mostly simply ignorant immigrants. Knowing nothing of the country whence they come, they assume that the West is the same place, except that there  they can have benefits.  If they are unable to preserve a religion and culture, their only response can be suicide attacks.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Gloria Vizinczey Obituary


Gloria Vizinczey was the most brilliant and loveliest woman I have ever known.  Unlike many women who make sure that you know how smart they are, meeting her you would have no idea from her manner how intelligent and how well educated she was.  We have been together since 1962, for fifty-eight happy years. She was my editor, critic and researcher.  If you have read my reviews and essays and were stunned by the depth of knowledge and erudition, the credit should go to Gloria. When I reviewed for The Times and The Telegraph in the 1980’s and 1990’s, I read the book I was writing about and Gloria’s resum├ęs of 15 – 20 books connected to the authors and their subjects were reprinted in major newspapers around the world. These reviews were printed in book form, Truth and Lies in Literature.  Collections of essays and reviews are notoriously poor sellers, but Truth and Lies in Literature sold a million copies around the world and used copies are still selling.

Gloria was a graduate of The University of Toronto, majoring in literature and foreign languages.  Quite apart from everything else, she was a linguistic genius.  She corrected even the French, German, Italian and Spanish translations of my books.  She could love without being blind to my faults.  One time when I said something very stupid, her daughter, Mary Harron, exasperated, asked me, “Stephen, how old are you?”  Gloria shot back, “He’s two and a half.”  Just the same, she helped me to believe in myself and my work.

Once I lectured a friend about women. He listened for an hour and then burst out, “You, you!  It’s easy for you to talk. You’ve got Gloria!”

If you comment on her death, forgive me if I don’t reply.  I’m cut up by her absence.

Gloria Vizinczey (1927, February 21st - 2020, October, 19th.)