Saturday, March 24, 2012

Women of Letters and other correspondence

Mobile phone + lamp light = atrocious photo

My darling husband bought me Women of Letters: Reviving the Lost Art of Correspondence for my birthday, because he knows I’m in love with Marieke Hardy and he’s secure enough to accept that (it's curated by Hardy and Michaela McGuire). The book is a compilation of letters that were written and read by their writer/actor/musician/politician/etc. authors at various Women (and Men) of Letters events that have been happening around the country; tickets to one of these events was my husband’s first idea for a gift, but they disappear quickly. I’m glad I ended up with his backup plan, though, because this is a book I’ll reread (at least parts of) over and over again.

The letters are grouped in themes, such as “To the song I wish I’d written” or “To my twelve-year-old self,” and part of my enjoyment of the book was thinking through the letter I’d have written if challenged with the same topics. I didn’t enjoy all of the letters, but I loved some. Many made me smile, and a couple made me really laugh: Jane Clifton’s letter “To the best present I ever received” was one, and Sophie Braham’s love letter to email was another. There’s a section written by men, “To the woman who changed my life,” and almost all of them made me cry. The guys seemed to be much more honest than many of the women (perhaps because of the topic), and that section was/is my favourite by far. 

It’s been a great book for reading over the last couple of weeks, as the letters are short (even the long ones), and therefore perfect for the small amounts of reading time I’ve snatched in between unpacking a ridiculous number of boxes and sleep. (I should warn you, however, that the shortness also means it’s dangerously easy to convince yourself that getting through just one more letter won’t take too long, and then you think maybe you’ll just finish that whole section, and then before you know it it’s 12:30am and you’re reading with only one eye open (and that’s only because you’re holding your eyelid up.)) You should definitely check out this book, or buy it for someone who has a crush on Marieke Hardy. They’ll love you for it, trust me.

On the topic of letters, I’ve taken to writing more regularly to people I’d usually only talk about writing to, and I’m always overly thrilled when they respond. When this blog was but an infant, I wrote to John Stackhouse to ask him if I could use a picture of his book cover for my review, and his reply made my heart want to burst with delight and gratitude:

And though it was only a line, I’ve still held on to Anthony Albanese’s response to my passionate plea for him to do the right thing and vote for Kevin Rudd during the ALP leadership showdown thing last month:
Finally, the following letter is from my dear Grandma, who writes here in response to the email I sent to thank her for the money she’d given me for my birthday. For a little more context: I told her I was planning to buy some new clothes, and she thinks I wear too much black (she’s sure this is why I feel depressed sometimes):


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