Let’s Get Epistolary (Novels)

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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)”

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My Favorite Authors: An Added Addendum

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Let’s wrap this one up!  I have something like eight authors to go through on this round (and eight is my favorite number) so let’s get started.

Shirley Jackson:
Namely, her hazy and suspenseful fiction.  You may have read The Lottery, an excellent short story.  You may have been introduced to her, as I was, through We Have Always Lived in the Castle.  There’s a cat in that one.  And a character named Connie (more people should be named Connie).  Funnily enough, a friend who actually asks for and heeds my book recommendations tells me that the Connie in this book reminds him a lot of me. And I’m flattered- which says something about the character but possibly more about me because (spoiler) she’s quite possibly poisoned her family.  Also a girl whose nickname is Merricat, which is kind of freaking awesome.  The Haunting of Hillhouse is also really really good.  And the movie is good but diverges from the book regarding some important plot/character developments- but both are enjoyable and gorgeously atmospheric.  I have to admit that I like her nonfiction less (Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are about her family life and I think her husband and children sound impossible to live with (and she does too, tbh)) (But also I’m a misanthrope so maybe don’t take my word for it?)  If you’ve disentangled my convoluted parentheses, points to you! Continue reading “My Favorite Authors: An Added Addendum”