Edna Carver is a seventy-five-year-old artist who has lost her way. Finding herself in a retirement residence with bad food, absurd rules, and compliant peers, she rebels with her best friend, Elizabeth, until Fate and Sunset Lodge Management intervene, the latter in the name of personal and medical “safety.” When Edna is transferred to an even more regimented long-term-care facility, she knows she must follow Elizabeth’s advice and return to her art if she is to survive this medically oppressive environment. Aiding her in her fight against ageism and medical malfeasance is Diana Mallory, a thirty-something writer who discovers far more than she bargains for when she agrees to investigate Edna’s complaints. Set in Toronto in the early eighties, Under the Moon‘s characters continue to inspire readers to challenge the North American habit of ageism and the medical appropriation of the aging process. With long-term-care facilities sprouting like mushrooms in communities on both sides of the border, this tragicomic novel has never been more relevant.
A Personal Note from Jane
More than a decade before I became interested in exploring the positive changes in our food system, I was interested in how we treat our aging human populations. The names we use for people who are no longer considered middle aged – seniors, retirees, elders, old folks, old fogies and the like – have been around for a relatively short time. Just as modern consumer society invented the teenager as a viable market for music, clothes, fiction, films, and food, so it invented the “senior citizen” to capitalize on that great motivator of spending, fear: fear of falling, fear of poverty, fear of medical emergencies, fear of crime, fear of health-care glitches, fear of lack of funeral preparedness . . . the list is as inexhaustible as the list of insurance providers, government “senior” services, and private businesses that are doing their best to exploit these fears daily.
Because I was blessed with a robust, joyful, irreverent, and fearless grandmother, I laughed at these marketing ploys until I witnessed their deleterious effects on my very own great aunts. Under the Moon, a novel begun in the intemperate fires of outrage when I was in my late-twenties and soberly revised and finally launched into the Canadian literary scene a few years later, was my response to the evils of segregating people according to age. Far from being a depressing book, its fictional characters are aware of and infuriated by the absurdities of growing old in a culture that values money more than wisdom, experience, and skill.
Long before people were signing up for Shamanic training weekends, I tuned into the psyche of artist Edna Carver, a seventy-five-year-old woman who knew more about the Law of Attraction back in the late seventies and early eighties than many people know now, despite the wildly successful work of the Abraham-Hicks collaboration and The Secret. Edna’s main criticism of retirement-home living is its standardization. She’s an individual, and she resents being managed, protected, and fed the sub-standard food an ill-informed nutritionist believes she should eat. Edna is, along with her best friend Elizabeth, childish in her rebellion, until things turn serious and she understands that her life depends upon her “being the change” she wants to see in the dangerously dehumanizing, “golden years” environment. She becomes the change in her own unique way, and in doing so helps to birth a more compassionate, interconnected, and diverse world to replace the customary rules and regulations of the for-profit nursing home that dehumanizes its inhabitants in the name of efficiency and medical care.
Not surprisingly, because of its uncommercial subject matter, after a brief five-year shelf life Under the Moon went out of print. It might have stayed that way had I not read a cache of articles exposing current nursing-home horrors while researching suitable topics for one of my writing/research classes and the Community College of Vermont. “Hmmm,” said my sixty-seven-year-old self to my thirty-seven-year-old self, “This is thirty years later. Why are the same conditions that I discovered so long ago still plaguing people?” The answer is simple. Money.
As those of us who take the Law of Attraction seriously know, if you concentrate on what you don’t want, you get more of what you don’t want. Under the Moon is about concentrating – and manifesting – what we do want: diverse ways to grow older in sustainable and intergenerational surroundings that have no place for the “management” approach drug companies employ to ensure outsized profits for owners rather than optimum care for residents of long-term-care facilities.
There are millions of us approaching that moment when we will consider making a different kind of home for ourselves in order to accommodate the needs of our aging bodies and our spiritual values. Sustainability, creativity, diversity – these are just a few of the watchwords we know support empowered self-governance regardless of our age. We will, if we are fortunate, live out the ending of our lives as we lived out our coming-of-age stories – consciously and with purpose. We are, after all, Boomers, a tenacious, get-involved generation of idealistic free spirits much maligned by subsequent generations; still, a few of us are doing our best to transform the living possibilities of aging people in our North American Culture.
This is a worthy cause to embrace as we age.
Because independent book stores and libraries are the backbone of our intellectual freedom, I hope you will request Under the Moon from your local independent seller. Local bookstore staff and librarians can then order copies from Lightning Source and its print-on-demand services. You can also order print copies on Amazon; while this corporate giant does much to curtail shopping locally, it is supportive of divergent voices in the publishing world.