Iris and Lydia are watching a divinely tasteless tourist wedding on a beach in Mexic0, the ceremony punctuated by the recorded voice of the groom singing “We’ve Only Just Begun.” Ominously, the word “narcotraficantes” floats into the conversation, not given another thought, except that the reader knows, the READER KNOWS! Something will come of this. Iris is 78 and charges through life with a certain comic grandeur, tossing off Spanish phrases. Lydia, her daughter, is cautious, middleclass — her husband has “escaped” her. The air is one of golden sand and indolence. Attentive, amenable Mexican waiters humor the gringos with money; the wedding counterpoints Lydia’s anxious memories of a lost husband; a delightful irony suffuses the entire scene, coupled with threat. And, yes, we’ve only just begun.
This a section plucked from the opening of Contributing Editor Ann Ireland‘s novel-in-progress Where’s Bob. Her fourth novel The Blue Guitar was just published this spring.
‘That’s for us,’ Iris said, pointing to the final item on the activity menu. ‘Archery is excellent for balance and concentration. I always thought I might be good at it. But you must join me, in case I start to tip over.’
Squeals of laughter rose from the swimming pool where a member of the Star Team was conducting an aerobics class, though not very vigorously, judging by the unmanaged hopping up and down as salsa music blared from the speaker.
Lydia, Iris’s middle aged daughter, frowned, and not at the noise. ‘Not such a good idea, Mama, considering your fragile bits.’
‘I have no fragile bits,’ Iris insisted and gave her thigh a hearty slap. ‘You might say that I’m better than ever.’ The left hip had been replaced two years ago, an arduous couple of months, but well worth it. ‘I am perfectly intact in limb and joint, probably tougher than you, given the fact that there’s titanium in there.’ She paused and added in a softer tone: ‘We may as well have it out now on day one of our vacation: You are not to fuss about me.’
‘I don’t fuss,’ Lydia objected. But she sounded cross.
‘Tipping over refers to a slight tendency to vertigo. As your father might have said – ‘Expect the unexpected’ – and should a rescue be required, I’ll let you know, loud and clear.’ Iris smiled at the anticipated drama of such a moment, where her daughter, no spring chicken herself, might race across the beach to catch her teetering mother.
‘Do I have a choice?’ Lydia said.
‘You do not.’
The two women, one tall and majestic (Iris), the other shorter and thin with sparse hair (Lydia) sloughed past the beach volleyball court where girls in bikinis lunged for the ball aided by bare-chested men, not all them young. Long-limbed, the girls neighed like thoroughbreds, tossing blonde hair over shoulders. Iris and Lydia treaded in their sandaled feet through the fine-grained sand of the Yucatan coast. To one side, the shore sloped to the turquoise sea which was scattered with bathers, who, for the most part, stood in place and let gentle surf wash over them. To the other side was La Piramide, a five star sprawling resort whose main building was shaped in the form of a Mayan pyramid. Their room was in the Toucan wing where public areas were painted cheerful tropical colors, as opposed to the Colonial wing with its tasteful dark wood and murals of the conquistadores. Everyone wore plastic wristbands indicating where they could dine and drink without having to worry about carrying money – Iris’s idea of heaven. Money, anywhere, in any manifestation, was a pain in the neck.
She stopped beside the end of the meandering swimming pool with its tiered series of waterfalls.
‘Have you ever imagined such a place?’ Iris said, taking in a long breath of sea air, tinged with coconut oil.
‘Not in my wildest dreams,’ Lydia said.
In her tone Iris detected a certain contempt, an easy disregard for the sort of people who demanded artificial waterfalls and non-stop entertainment when they left home, not to mention five restaurants, six bars, two buffets and a snack bar that was open 24/7. The sort of places Lydia and Charlie took the kids, when Lydia and Charlie were still a team, were proudly shabby, tiles missing in the bathroom, a toilet that didn’t quite flush, iffy water flow and air conditioning, a simple hostel in some off the beaten path, perhaps in Cuba. They would bring toothpaste and underwear to the chambermaids, if there were chambermaids, and a parcel of magic markers and exercise books for local school children.
The two women threaded between loungers laden with oiled-up vacationers, their eyes now fixed on the rustic hut where a trio of blenders scoured fruit into luridly colored cocktails.
Discreetly, Lydia tucked an arm under her mother’s elbow as the sand shifted and Iris had begun to sway. She was 78 and had suffered her share of surgeries in recent years.
‘Shoot me if I get like that,’ she spoke into in her daughter’s ear.
She indicated with a nod a hefty woman of advanced years (though not as advanced as Iris) lying on a cot – a woman who had peeled down the top of her bathing suit to reveal the upper portion of two massive freckled breasts. A fanned out copy of a Harry Potter novel rose and fell on her impressive belly.
‘No one has the right to let herself go to that degree,’ Iris continued, sotto voce. ‘It’s a disgrace.’
‘To womankind?’ Lydia supplied.
‘Exactly!’ Iris nodded, pleased that they were in agreement.
Iris held herself well and had retained a defined waistline that she was proud of; her silver bathing suit featured a braided belt around the midriff and her feet were encased by strappy sandals– a pointed contrast to her daughter’s sensible espadrilles.
‘Ah, there’s my lad,’ Iris declared, arriving at the palapa, slightly breathless from the effort of crossing the beach. ‘Miguel!’ she hailed the young man in a crisp checked shirt who was operating a blender with one hand and pouring beer with the other. She fully expected him to remember her from last night when she and Lydia had arrived, hot, dirty, and fed up from the airline journey and the hour-long bus ride to the resort. Miguel had fortified them with jolts of tequila.
Today he greeted her with a wide smile, for of course he remembered the gringa who spoke Spanish.
‘Por favor, toss us a couple of margaritas, con limon fresco,’ Iris said.
The small crowd around the bar parted to make way for Iris, who didn’t seem to notice that she’d slipped to the head of the line: a prerogative of age. Iris looked so delighted that no one wanted to spoil her moment.
Her daughter offered an apologetic smile while Miguel set two foaming margaritas in plastic glasses on the sticky counter.
‘You got pesos for a tip?’ Iris whispered back to her daughter. Like the queen, she rarely carried money.
Lydia dug a coin from her beach bag and flipped it into the jar.
‘Now where shall we position ourselves?’ Iris said, spinning around, holding both drinks.
Lydia pointed to a shady area near the infinity pool. ‘I’ll take the booze over then come back for you.’
Iris frowned, as if she hadn’t heard. Soon she was beetling across the hot sand, making her way to a pair of loungers at the end of a row on the beach.
‘Mum!’ Lydia called sharply. ‘There are towels on them. They are occupied.’
Her mother called over her shoulder. ‘I see no occupants.’
As Iris pressed forward she thought it would have been wise to give the drinks to Lydia. But now she was stuck with them and crossing ridged sand that had been meticulously raked by staff in the morning, cigarette butts and other detritus collected into bags, not to mention the horse manure that cascaded from the rear ends of the sorry beasts that paraded up and down the beach at dusk. Iris set a grin firmly in place: this would not be the time to pitch forward and bust a limb, sticking Lydia with the task of carting her off to some dubious hospital. She tossed back her blonde-and silver tinted hair, noting that people were watching her progress. Well hell’s bells, she was used to a certain amount of attention, and not just from geezers. She did not cater to the commonly held belief that women of a certain age couldn’t hope to attract notice. A person creates her own visibility, insists on it.
She stood alone, wavering, barely keeping the margaritas upside. The sun was fierce. She felt her lips under crimson lipstick pucker in the salty air and she squinted, light bouncing off the water.
Lydia scampered to her side, grabbed the drinks, and said in an exasperated tone: ‘I’m doing my best.’
‘You are dear, I can see that.’
‘Just don’t go running off like that.’
Iris took advantage of the moment to gather her equilibrium. Time to slather on lotion, throw back a drink and get on with the business of relaxation. You could tell where one one hotel property stopped and the next began by the color of the pillows on the loungers. Blue striped (theirs) became salmon pink at Mission de La Rosa.
‘I’m sorry, dear. Hard for me to slow down,’ Iris said, conciliatory. She’d raised such an earnest, well meaning sort of girl.
Lydia lifted her arm like a wing so that her mother could cling to it, and she wasn’t too proud to do so. Glancing down, Iris noted that Lydia had neglected to shave her legs; it was some sort of feminist thing, and Iris almost remarked on it – then decided not to. It was sometimes wise to keep one’s counsel. Lydia had been a sparky child, prone to singing and dancing about the house and inventing imaginary friends; in other words, promising. I want an interesting child, not an obedient one, Iris used to say while other mothers cast disapproving glances. Perhaps most mothers felt this about their grown up children, a sad realization that they had become ordinary. Iris herself had never felt ordinary and no one had ever mistaken her as such.
They reached the cots, webbed plastic with gaily striped vinyl cushions, and a pair of damp towels – so Lydia was right about that: clear evidence of being claimed. Could be that young couple bobbing in the water close to shore.
‘Need help?’ Lydia said. She’d noted her mother staring, like an engineer, at the low slung pieces of furniture.
Whoever designed these loungers didn’t take into account that a segment of the population needed something to grab onto while dropping themselves to shin level.
Lydia wedged the drinks in the sand, giving each a half-turn so it screwed in, then offered her hand for Iris to clasp.
After a few scary seconds of hovering in no man’s land, followed by an alarming thud and a wheeze of vinyl –Iris was settled. In every way except flexibility the new hip was grand. Beside her, Lydia glided effortlessly onto the other lounger, draping the wet towel over its end. People must not claim turf that they didn’t need; if the world paid attention to this basic principle they’d all be in less trouble. Iris shut her eyes against the sun. She could hear the rustling of her daughter as she fetched a crossword puzzle book from her beach bag and set to work. Behind them a Mexican family, mother and father and two small children, chattered in Spanish, something about their aunt who would, or would not, be joining them this weekend. A slap of a card game to one side. A thrilled shriek as an unexpectedly big wave rolled in.
‘Mum? Your drink. I’ll set it on the table next to you.’
Noises retreated; the body stretched into languor, muscles cramped from air travel released and it was like drowning in new air, giving up, limb by limb. Iris fell asleep for perhaps twenty minutes. When her eyes fluttered open, the Mexican family had disappeared, leaving cameras, books, towels and beach toys behind. Her drink, what was left of it, was baking in the sun, ice cubes long since dissolved. Lydia was sitting cross-legged on her cot, reading intently with a pen in hand, ready to underline pertinent passages.
Iris said in a lazy tone: ‘Are we allowed to mention Charlie?’
‘Of course,’ her daughter replied.
‘Because, no matter how this unfolds, he remains the father of your children.’
Lydia cast those huge brown eyes towards the glistening sea, as if the obvious had been spoken, as indeed it had. Cliches popped out of Iris’s mouth around Lydia. It was because she was trying to act ‘motherly’, a role she’d never taken to in a natural way. It was Lydia’s father, Richard, Iris’s first husband, who used to point this out, saying – ‘Not everyone is cut out to be Old Mother Hubbard.’
‘When you share kids, you share for good,’ Iris added.
This unoriginal comment warranted no reply.
Lydia continued to stare out to sea, a widow searching the horizon for her husband’s vessel. Charlie did disappear on water, though hardly in a whaling boat; he heaved off from the dock in his carefully restored Chestnut canoe, storm clouds bundling overhead, while Lydia stood barefoot on shore in her hippie dress, fretting about lifejackets and lightening strikes, worry escalating into pleas, then anger. Iris could imagine this scene all too easily.
Charlie was escaping.
That’s how Iris saw it, because she was a champion escaper herself – and who could blame the poor man? Lydia made it out to be a spontaneous gesture, but Charles Kingsley had never been a man to act recklessly: his disappearance was most certainly plotted. By profession, he was vice principal at Danforth Technical and Vocational Collegiate in east end Toronto – hardly a pirate. He’d sent his mother in law a crisp email after the fact, a cryptic message that Iris had never shared with her daughter. It read simply: ‘Sorry.’
‘Have you heard from him lately?’ Iris asked.
‘We’re on speaking terms. Things to do with the kids.’
Well, that was something.
Iris would tread carefully. ‘How are Doug and Annie doing?’
‘Very well, thank you.’
‘I suppose they are angry.’
‘Of course they’re angry, Mum. A parent disappears one summer afternoon; it’s pretty traumatic.’
The arrow hit its mark, for Iris had done a similar bunk when her children were young, though you could hardly compare the two episodes: she had never claimed to be stable. She was as restless as a cat and it taught Lydia and her brother to expect the unexpected.
This sky was intensely blue, a color reflected in the sea, and these poor winter eyes creased into slits, to accommodate. Iris had left behind the enveloping fog of the Bay area, Lydia, her modest house in east end Toronto in the depths of winter, Doug not much use in the snow shoveling department or other manly tasks. According to his mother, he spent hours in his room with the door closed, eyes glued to the monitor of his computer. One could venture a guess as to what he was up to. She wondered if Lydia had a clue.
Lydia sipped blithely at her margarita. This was her first; Iris reached for her second: Gracias Miguel. Or was it Pedro?
‘Another couple of suckers enter marital hellfire,’ Lydia said, tucking her feet under her, letting the book slide off her lap. The crossword puzzle magazine had fallen to the sand.
A pair of young men in sharply pressed safari suits were hauling two Roman columns, each easily eight feet tall, off a dolly. With odd ease, for these props were made of styrofoam, they planted the columns upright in the sand. When this task was done, they unrolled a strip of red carpet leading up to a dais then set up rows of folding chairs, clicking them open with one foot. Destination weddings were all the rage.
‘Shall I warn the happy couple what they’re getting into?’ Lydia said.
The caustic tone didn’t suit her.
The sun was beginning to swell directly overhead, casting a shadowless heat over the proceedings. Then the wedding party began to arrive, women in breezy cocktail dresses and high heels picked their way over the stone walkway and onto the carpet, laughing and clinging to the elbows of male escorts who wore neat shorts and tropical shirts. Some of these shirts were monogramed with the name of the resort and sported a graphic of a pyramid.
Iris propped herself up up to see better. Lydia, despite her sneering, couldn’t keep her eyes off the ceremony and she shifted her lounger so that she had an unobstructed view. She wasn’t the only one to do this. All around them, scores of sunbathers tilted their visors for an unfettered gaze.
‘Senora, you are finished?’ The young waiter hovered, one hand ready to grab the empty plastic cups.
Yes, estoy terminada. Iris used the opportunity to practice her Spanish: What is your name?
And where is your hometown?
Unlike waiters at home in the United States, he didn’t feel the need to speed off to the next task.
‘Patzcuaro!’ She’d spent time there, many years ago– ‘hace mucho anos’, had rented a house with – her memory failed her for a moment – with Jake the sculptor. It had been her second extended trip to this country. Such a beautiful mountain town with views over a reedy lake, though there had been word in recent years of goings-on due to the drug trade.
‘Muy bonito!’ she declared and she and Patricio exchanged nods of agreement. Back home in Berkeley, she always spoke to her Salvadorian cleaning lady in her native tongue.
Patricio’s smooth brow suddenly furrowed and he rattled off a sentence just as the wedding party began to blast that ballad from Titanic.
Iris cupped one hand by her ear, the universal symbol.
There were ‘problemitas’ in Michoacan, Patricio confided as he dropped the empty cups into his trash bag. Bad people. ‘Narcotraficantes.’
Mexico was plagued with violence from the drug cartels; she didn’t live in a cave. She’d read about the beheadings, assassinations, and dismembered bodies dropped into pails of acid. These ghastly events were mostly clotted along the border – but wasn’t the state of Michoacan noted for growing marijuana in the hills? Now there were meth labs. Tourists flocked to this beach in the Yucatan, under the illusion that resorts were immune from trouble – Iris knew better. The country had always been lawless. She and Jake were drinking mezcal in a cantina in Chiapas one evening when a borracho barreled through the louvered doors and pulled out an antique gun and started firing at the bartender – everyone hit the floor, the terrified gringos included. No one was hurt, and the police eventually came along, piled in the back of a pick up truck, holding rifles and looking excited. The drunk had long since vanished.
Many gringos would have high-tailed back to the States at that point, but Iris’s opinion was –why travel if you want things to be the same as back home?
She fixed her gaze on Patricio, shielding her eyes with one hand. ‘What a difficult time for your country,’ she said.
The lad revived his tourist-friendly smile, even while nodding ‘yes’. Behind that smile, Iris decided, lurked a possible family catastrophe, perhaps a murder or kidnapping, or an uncle lost to meta-amphetamines. One did not know what hid behind the happy expressions that staff were obliged to wear, along with their crisply laundered uniforms. She glanced around at the other tourists – they didn’t have a clue. The knowledge swelled inside her: she had a bond with this country. She’d knocked around its mountains and deserts and beaches for many months, so long ago. She was about to say this to the young waiter, but he was suddenly gone and the little table was bare.
As Celine Dion’s voice crested towards the chorus, the wedding party continued to assemble, observed by the audience of oil-slicked, leathery tourists humped on loungers, dazed by sun and too many pina coladas. The bride and groom hadn’t anticipated onlookers when they’d pored over the brochures back home, photographs showing Romanesque columns and acres of empty sand and the glistening Caribbean sea. Brochures wouldn’t show that fat man with hairy shoulders emerging from the water, snorkel mask in hand, shorts dragging off his rear end, nor would they illustrate the squalling children tossing sand at each other at water’s edge. A member of staff carrying a clipboard positioned herself to the side of the proceedings and politely fended off the curious in their drooping bathing suits, asking them to please not interfere with the photographers’ sight lines. These tourists in flip flops seemed to want to stride into the middle of the event, one reality colliding with another. It reminded Iris of those Shakespeare productions back in the 1970’s, where the audience was obliged to take part in the action, shouting encouragement to Hamlet, or handing Lady Macbeth her dagger.
‘Maybe we’ll end up at the margins of their photos,’ Lydia said. As if preparing for this eventuality, she slipped into her crinkly blouse and fluffed up her hair. A photographer was busily snapping pictures as the party made their way to the folding chairs which balanced precariously on carpet laid over sand. A trickle of applause, and at last the bride appeared, click-clacking down the stone pathway, wearing a fairy dress of white chiffon, a camilla in her hair. That must be her father, a surprisingly young looking fellow in tropical shirt and khakis, sporting a formidable handlebar mustache. He was beaming even more than his daughter who was intent on not stumbling.
‘What a remarkable garment,’ Lydia said, referring to the dress. ‘Do you think it’s made of surgical gauze?’
‘Shhh,’ Iris cautioned.
Everyone crooned an appreciative ‘Ahh’ as father and daughter stepped cautiously onto the red carpet. The bride was pale-skinned and dark haired, possibly Irish, and very slender, showing off toned arms, a nervous smile careening off her face. Not wanting to wear sunglasses, she squinted, an expression caught for posterity by the young man who might be her brother, snapping wildly with his point and shoot.
Iris was starting to tear up, as was her more cynical daughter. They didn’t dare exchange glances, in case the floodgates were unleashed. For once, Lydia made no snotty remarks and merely watched as a light breeze coasted across the beach, fluttering the pages of novels and magazines then catching the hem of the bride’s dress in a provocative way. The father, surely no more than forty-five, helped his daughter negotiate the transition from cobblestone to carpet, clutching her elbow firmly. His face gleamed with health and happiness, though he seemed self-conscious: who wouldn’t be with all these strangers watching –and with his free hand he patted down his lanky hair that didn’t quite manage to cover his bald spot. The younger men all had shaved heads and looked like marines on furlough. The bride’s dark hair didn’t come from her Dad’s side of the family. That would be her mother sitting in the front row, also slender, wearing a pink top and silk trousers, twisting on her seat to watch the pair walk up the makeshift aisle. The bride gave a little squeak of alarm as her heel caught in the threads of carpet but Father expertly kept her aloft. The groom would be that stocky man standing at the front watching his bride’s approach. He wore a tropical shirt decorated with a pattern of shells. His face was pink, his head shiny. Iris leaned forward to see better: he was already puffy around the cheeks and neck– a man who liked his liquor. Should the girl be warned?
Iris knew enough about drinkers to last a lifetime.
Someone had turned down the music and now they could hear the relentless salsa beats coming from the activity pool and the Star girl urging all swimmers to clap their hands and ‘Dance! Dance!’ The bride reached the groom and was handed off by her father who retreated, one suspected with relief, to the empty chair by his wife. This wife didn’t squeeze his hand or pat his knee, and Iris decided that they were estranged, brought together for this event.
‘I know him!’ Lydia whispered loudly. She looked excited and was pointing to a small neat man standing next to the groom. ‘We met in the Internet room. He’s a Unitarian minister who goes up and down the coast marrying people.’
The dark-skinned Mexican in a white shirt with pleats had flipped open a folder and began to read from a set piece as bride and groom held hands and listened. Iris could hear just enough to note that there was no hint of religiosity in the text and no Khalil Gibran drivel.
The breeze ratcheted up a notch and now the bride was having to fight her dress as the photographer snapped away. The minister hesitated while the groom murmured something that made people laugh, then he plucked a ring from his pocket and slipped it onto his bride’s finger. At this photogenic moment, a child carrying an inflatable whale darted behind the couple, forever captured in the event.
Lydia let out a giggle. The alcohol was finally getting to her and that tense face had begun to relax, the hatch of lines smoothing between her eyebrows. In baby pictures, Lydia always looked anxious; she was born with a furrowed brow and the weight of the ages. They used to think it was cute, because, of course, what did a baby know of the trials of the world?
By the end of the week, if Iris had her way, Lydia would lose half a dozen years and they’d be a couple of dizzy females making their way to the bar in the evening. Lydia was apt to give up on future romance; just because Charlie had blown off didn’t mean nobody else would come sniffing around. Where on earth did she ever get such a defeatist attitude? Certainly not from her mother.
The minister had the high sloping forehead of the Mayans, indigenous to these parts. He gazed over the wedding party, eyes indicating a level of boredom, as for a moment, he forgot where he was and who these people were gathered before him.
Cheers erupted from the volleyball court and a ball coasted skyward, narrowly missing the bride’s head. It landed on the makeshift dais, where it stayed, no one nervy enough to fetch it.
Then, quite unexpectedly, the minister craned his neck and stared straight at Lydia and Iris, and he waved discreetly. Iris felt herself pinken at being singled out, then realized that it was her daughter’s presence that had caught his attention. Let Lydia claim her due. She was still an attractive woman, ‘still’ being one of those qualifying words that signaled anyone pushing fifty who was managing to hold onto her looks.
If Lydia would just relax that perpetual frown that made her look so fierce and hard to get along with. Her posture could use a little work too; an erect spine and tilted chin took years off a woman’s age.
The recorded music switched to jazz piano, one of those innocuous modern pieces, as the bride and groom remained standing in front of the small party, clasping hands. Finished his recitation, the minister dropped back. Everyone seemed to be waiting, then suddenly a booming recorded voice filled the speakers, startling the onlookers: ‘We’ve only Just Begun’ rang out in a pleasant although amateur baritone voice, rough around the edges but in tune.
The bride tipped her head against the groom’s broad shoulder, her eyes glassy.
So the groom was a singer, and this recorded performance was his surprise.
The voice sketched out the song with moderate accuracy, running out of breath here and there, yet this was what made the song so moving. When a note caught in his throat, Iris felt it catch in her own and she unabashedly let tears run down her cheeks. Lydia rummaged around in her beach bag, pulled out a bunched up tissue and began to blow her nose. Weren’t they a sentimental pair? Lydia caught her eye and began to laugh and soon they were both laughing as they wept.
Iris reached out and touched her daughter’s forearm, and for a moment Lydia was a little girl, wounded from some playground accident, racing home for consolation and finding fresh tears the moment she spotted her mother. Perhaps Iris hadn’t been as patient as she might have been with these episodes: the girl was melodramatic, craving attention long after the crisis was over and the wound bandaged – not an appealing quality in a child.
Iris stroked her daughter’s forearm again and gave it a squeeze, but not without a sensation of being artificial.
Lydia drew her arm away.
All of this happened in a moment and Iris felt disturbed, as if she’d been found wanting. One tried to do right, but mothers were doomed to fail. Surely Lydia knew that by now, having two nearly grown children of her own.
As if recalling this fact, her daughter swung her legs over the side of the lounger.
‘It’s 2 o’clock Toronto time,’ she announced before slipping her feet into her espadrilles and taking off towards the pathway that led to the Internet room. Lydia bustled in there every few hours.
She was going to Skype Annie, who’d enrolled at a second rate University in northern Ontario, majoring in something called Environmental Studies, a profession that didn’t exist when Iris went to school. Annie and her mother communicated every day. Lydia would comment more often than necessary that she and Annie were ‘great good friends’; this always sounded like a judgement, for didn’t she and Iris go for weeks, even months, on end without communicating?
Suddenly alone, Iris set herself as upright as possible on the lounger. The marriage ceremony was winding down, the compact group making its way towards one of the private event rooms.
Ann Ireland is the author of four novels, most recently THE BLUE GUITAR, which has been getting excellent reviews all across Canada. She coordinates the Writing Workshops department at the Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, in Toronto. She teaches on line writing courses and edits novels for other writers from time to time. She also writes profiles of artists for Canadian Art Magazine and Numéro Cinq Magazine (where she is Contributing Editor). Dundurn Press will be re-publishing Ann’s second novel: THE INSTRUCTOR over the summer of 2013.