Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher… A Review

Is it voyeuristic to enjoy leafing through the pages of Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher? The letters span the centuries and include letters such as Mary Queen of Scots 1587 letter to her brother-in-law, hours before she was beheaded, to a Ronald Reagan letter written to his son Michael in 1971 about the beauty of marriage. The famous, the not so famous, the notorious, advice, questions, thank you's, serious, funny, a job request, and letters written when it was the usual way to communicate.

This oversized book is rich in history and I loved reading through the nearly 350 pages. But I was also touched by some of them, such as when looney tunes animator, Chuck Jones, lost the family dog, Jones' Uncle Lynn wrote a heartfelt letter from the dog to Chuck's family, or when Francis Carr-Gomm, head of the London Hospital in 1886, wrote the The London Times newspaper about a "unspeakable disfigured young man", asking for help on his behalf. Later in history, we will know that young man as The Elephant Man, and that letter was filled with such empathy and caring about the sad life and the need for help for that young man whose name was Joseph Merrick.

 Filled with the original note when available (scanned), transcripts of the letters, photos and all notes with a little history behind the letter, this is an amazing collection. Shaun Usher originally started posting these letters on his blog, Letters of Note, in September of 2009, finally publishing his book in 2014. You can read still read the archives on Shaun's blog to sample some of these letters, but I think these letters are so much more enjoyable turning the pages of a book lying in your lap.

Would I recommend reading this book? Definitely Yes! This would make a wonderful gift too! The hardcover book is a beautiful size and has one of those ribbon bookmarks sewn into the spine. I checked this book out from my library, actually it was an interlibrary loan, but this is now on my wish list because I'd really like a copy for the shelves!

*P.S. This book is actually available as a Kindle Edition at a bargain price of $7.99 right now!

1 comment:

thecuecard said...

Wow that's a pretty cool book. I went to the website you noted and there was a letter by Emily Dickinson that's quite fascinating. She signs her letter Emilie apparently. How did you hear of this book of letters? It's seems such a wide range of correspondence. thanks for sharing! I think I want to read more from this

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