This huge little book will touch you; more than that, it will move you. Through journal entries of sophisticated simplicity and unpretentious poise we get to meet, the spirited, astute, oh so engaging, Mo, not Morag-she disliked that harsh last syllable-Anderson who writes superbly about growing up a Catholic in Dundee, about life in London, just off Baker Street and addictively close to Regent’s Park which she describes enticingly enough to make the reader want to go there NOW!; and the varios unrelated cancers she overcame until the last one killed her at the age of sixty nine, on her birthday.
The grandfather she never knew, a victim of the First World War, an emigrant to Montreal. Her English teacher on whom she had a crush. Margaret, a fellow patient who had holidayed with Morag (the forename used throughout by others). And so many others in this gallery of pen portraits. Landscapes too. Vancouver. Dumfries. Stratford, each vividly etched, skilfully sketched, but peopled. Her places are backdrops for conviviality.
First afflicted at thirty, Morag Anderson sees herself through much stoic suffering, seeking, and finding joy along the way. The gathering of pieces is non chronological, but the mosaic is gorgeously patterned and although the tone is attractively flippant here and there, the effect is maturely confiding, never merely whimsical.
Combining poetry and prose this outstanding collection contains not a syllable of self- pity, just self-knowledge in poignant and witty abundance. Its author is both inspiring and inspirational. Her book is enviably excellent in its authorial confidence and control.
It speaks eloquently of the truly tender mercies of the Maggie Cancer Care Centre, of the magnificent writing group led by the book’s editor, Larry Butler, of the therapeutic power of writing and of the sustaining support of family and friends.
Morag, Mo, I think she would forgive the familiarity, was in the Maggie’s group for a decade, the longest lived member thus far.
What a literary legacy…
The highest compliment I can pay her is that I dearly wish I had met this, droll, compelling, courageously candid, elegant and observant writer who laboured mightily for childline and had such a conspicuous talent for friendship.
She believed in literally burning words, barbecue style, and scattering the ashes to promote new life. The metaphorical sense of the title’s pun is just as apt.
Morag Anderson’s words will warm and enlighten every person whose life this remarkable anthology enters.