Friday, May 13, 2016

Letters of Note

Over the last two days I read the most amazing book, Letters of Note. I couldn’t wait to finish it in order to share it with everyone. Yes, I’m one of those. I believe the Latin term is pestis molestus. Undoubtedly, you’ve come across my kind in your daily life, maybe a friend, old aunt or acquaintance that makes an annoying pest of themselves telling everyone they know of any newly discovered book (or movie, or other remotely interesting find), extolling its virtues and not giving up until you’ve experienced its joy too. Don’t you just love us!

Anyway, I digress. Letters of Note is just what its subtitle says “an eclectic collection of correspondence deserving of a wider audience.” It is pure unadulterated brilliance. A collection of 125 letters that will make you laugh, cry and feel every other emotion in between. You’ll find a taunting note from Jack the Ripper that closes with “catch me when you can”, Virginia Woolf’s heartbreaking yet beautiful suicide letter to her beloved husband, a funny and moving response letter from Louis Armstrong to a U.S. Marine stationed in Vietnam (“Music is life itself. What would this world be without good music. No matter what kind it is.”), Leonardo Da Vinci’s job application letter (“Likewise in painting, I can do everything possible as well as any other, whosoever he may be.”), an escaped slave’s letter to his old master upon a request that he return to work on the old plantation, and my personal favorite, a love letter from renowned physicist Richard Feynman to his deceased wife (oh to be loved like that; its every word had tears rolling down my face), to mention only a few.

While I took the book out of the library, I will be buying my own copy ASAP, because it is a book worthy of being read and re-read so the emotion immortalized on its pages and phrases is forever engraved in my memory. It is a book that will undoubtedly gather dust and dog-eared pages in my nightstand drawer over years and years to come.

PS. A new volume with more letters, including Richard Burton's farewell note to Elizabeth Taylor, Helen Keller's letter to The New York Symphony Orchestra about 'hearing' their concert through her fingers, and the final missives from a doomed Japan Airlines flight in 1985, will be available in October. I can’t wait!!