My spring break ends tomorrow and I’ll be heading back to Yale, so naturally my thoughts are turning to correspondence and keeping in touch. I’ve never been a dependable letter-writer, enthusiastic as I am about it as an art. I blame advances in technology- email, texting, phone calls- that make writing (and asking people to write to you) feel pedantic, obsolete, and kind of unrewarding.
I wish I didn’t feel that way because there is something so gratifying in receiving a letter in the mail, something very grand in ‘conducting a correspondence’, and something so much more personal about handwritten thoughts tucked into an envelope just for you.
It makes you shiver, thinking of the things we stand to lose: heartfelt love letters, correspondence between great thinkers… We’ve replaced the first with sexts and FaceTime. The correspondence of Anais Nin and Henry Miller will be replaced by an endless chain of “U up?”s night after night. We replaced the latter with… I don’t know? Tweets to followers?
And I love letters as a frame for novels. A lot of the earliest novels were epistolary and it’s a tactic that pops up every now and again in fiction (though I haven’t read many (any?) contemporary examples- hopefully I’ll get to House of Leaves soon). Continue reading “Let’s Get Epistolary (Novels)”