I’ve begun reading “ Steinbeck – A Life in Letters”. As you might imagine it is not your everyday book. It is a collection of 850 letters.

I cannot, for the life of me, read this book like I would read a novel, but I think it wasn’t meant to. I pick it up sometimes and read a letter or two. It is like actually having a correspondence with Steinbeck only I don’t write back, although I do like to imagine the replies he got. Just to get an idea, here’s a fragment from one of his letters:

Dear Carl,

Here, on this paper, there is only you and me, and the things that each of us tries so hard to understand, clambering up through long, long researches  into the past, and thinking ponderously and seeking, and finding that for which we looked a glorified question mark.

It would be desirable to be flung, unfettered by consciousness, into the void, to sail unhindered through eternity. Please do not think that I am riding along on baseless words, covering threadbare thoughts with garrulous tapestries. I am not. It is the words which are inadequate.

You know so much and I can tell you nothing, and I don’t think I can even make you feel anything you have not felt more poignantly than I, who am a mummer in a brocaded boudoir.”

A mummer in a brocaded boudoir…

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I just finished teaching Of Mice and Men to my 9th grade students and I think I want this book immediately. That letter started so well. I think great writers write great journals and great letters and he definitely fits that mold. Have you read the letter he wrote to his son about love yet? I showed that to my students, it’s darling. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. It was actually his letter about love that convinced me to order this book. It took about a month and a half to arrive, because I couldn’t find it in my country, but it’s totally worth it. And you are so right: writers do write great journals and great letters. And, talking about writing excellent letters, you should see “Trumbo”. This great man had exceptional penmanship. Here’s a link of just one of his letters written to his son. It is, without a doubt, the best I’ve heard so far: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDZMXZciaVM


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