Posts Tagged: Letters

Ask Polly: Why Am I Deathly Afraid of Success?

Dear Polly,

Love your column. Can I throw something at you? Apologies for being vague with certain details.

I'm a 43-year-old woman who has spent my whole life in one industry, got pretty far, and then descended back down the ladder to the place I started from. One day my whole outlook on my career changed and I wanted out. The problem was I didn't know how to do anything else. I was unconsciously sabotaging job after job but without an exit strategy, so it was a rough few years. 

Finally I ended up at the entry level of my industry, hiding my experience and qualifications so I could be a worker [...]


I Was A Love-Letter Ghostwriter

Nine years ago, I answered an ad on Craigslist and was hired by artist Jana Leo de Blas. Jana was a tiny woman of indeterminable age with a dandelion puff of hair. I arrived at her bright, high-ceilinged studio in the old I.S.C.P. building in midtown Manhattan; she had built a platform in the middle of the room. I climbed the few steps, settled at the desk with my laptop and coffee and tried to remember some poetry to quote in case I choked. That morning was the start of a weekend of open studios, but Jana wanted to be sure we didn’t limit ourselves to visiting art fans, so [...]


“I don’t know how anyone approved of that story”

"Description of a village lottery. The entire town of about 300 people assembles in the village square where the time-honored ritual is observed. First all the heads of families draw slips of paper out of a box. Bill Hutchinson gets a certain slip after which his entire family draws slips. His wife, Tessie gets one with a black mark on it. The villagers surround her and start throwing stones at her, while she screams, 'It isn't fair.'" —Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" was published in the New Yorker on this day in 1948. Jackson biographer Ruth Franklin goes over some of the responses.


A Letter from the Theater Community Regarding David Adjmi's "3-C"

On June 6th, David Adjmi's play 3-C opened Off-Broadway, and the same day, he received a cease-and-desist letter. Without legal counsel, he felt compelled to agree that the run of the play could not be extended—and that it would never be performed again. In this open letter, a group of playwrights, theater professionals and performers explain why this is so wrong.

Playwright David Adjmi, whose play 3-C just closed a run at Rattlestick Theatre, has received a threatening "Protest Letter" from the law firm of Kenyon & Kenyon, which represents DLT Entertainment, the owners of the long defunct TV sitcom "Three's Company." The letter accuses him of [...]


J Mascis, "Not Enough"

If you are an old person who takes drugs, or a preschool age child who doesn't take drugs, or anybody else, really, you might enjoy this video for a song from J Mascis' new, mostly-acoustic solo album. I've been enjoying the video, the song and the rest of the album a lot lately. J Mascis is a longtime favorite of mine, and I've been fairly stunned by how excellent he and his band Dinosaur Jr. have been since the original line-up reunited in 2007—nineteen years after recording the classic Bug, which was the first album of theirs that I got. It's just been announced that they'll be [...]


Maggie McGirr Strikes Again!

Busy Connecticut lady and Bush administration enthusiast Maggie McGirr, who is famous (to me) for writing letters to the editor, is still on her game! The proud owner of dozens of published letters to the editor of the Times struck gold with this one today. It's actually very good: "What remains a mystery to me is the behavior of the cellphone user when his phone goes off in a place where it is unwelcome – in a concert or theater performance, for example. He gropes frantically through all his belongings as if he has no recollection of having brought it and therefore no idea where it [...]


Letters From The Gulf, Parts 3 And 4: 'Haven't 
Seen Anything Alive in the Water Yet'

Dan Horton, a friend and former colleague of mine, works on tugboats out of the New York Harbor for a living. Two weeks ago, he flew down to Louisiana to take a job on a barge unloading crude oil from the skimmer boats that clean the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. There's limited computer access on board; crew are only allowed to send and receive one email a day. Dan has been sending letters home to his girlfriend, Lori, who has been passing them along to friends and family, and now, with their permission, I'll pass them along to you. -Dave Bry


Ask Polly: How Do I Make My Boyfriend Listen?

Dear Polly,

I want to know how I can make my boyfriend a better listener.

It has happened several times that when I want to talk about something serious (the future, exes, fears, hopes, etc.) my boyfriend often gets distracted. It's not like he means to hurt me—I think it's just his nature, and possibly mild ADD—but it does hurt me.

I'm 24 and he will be 30 next year. We both see each other as potential life partners. But how can I be with someone who gets distracted by a squirrel when I'm telling him about my father's funeral?

That's the other thing: I have some [...]


Janet Malcolm v. Francine Prose

A reader writes: "what is the long game here????" He refers to this letter, in the New York Review of Books, from Janet Malcolm, to Francine Prose, regarding Rebecca West's views on Charlotte Brontë. (You got that? ARE YOU SURE.) Malcolm criticizes Rebecca West's views on Brontë, but finishes: "Prose’s condescending words about Nora Ephron’s brilliant elliptical essays are similarly puzzling."

How did this come to pass? To what end was this written? Was this an impulsive blog comment of a letter? I too would be moved to defend Nora Ephron, but perhaps not to the extent of dashing off a letter. Or was this a tip [...]


The English Language's 26 Most Important Letters

The English alphabet has ever been the center of the American literary universe — the letters of Whitman, of Edith Wharton, of every poorly-spelled happy hour chalkboard in Greenwich Village — and though the legendary set of graphemes has lost a little edge and a lot of grime what with all the crazy texting the kids do today, it is still creative fodder for countless contemporary writers, even the ones who have figured out that if you do graphic novels you have to write like 75% less.

As you may have heard, one of the alphabet's most legendary letters, Q, recently announced that since he was only appreciated in Scrabble [...]


A Little History Of Blackmail

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

The word “blackmail” has deceit written all over it. Nine letters to connote all the dirtiness and manipulation that comes with the threat of disclosure. But when you think of "blackmail," do you picture, well, mail? Confidential missives that threaten to enter the wrong hands? I’m always reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Purloined Letter," where the narrative winds to follow the possible locations of an incriminating letter. In daytime soaps and murder mysteries, blackmail regularly happens through the transfer of mail. As we know, letters are by nature compromising—not only [...]


Old-School Letter Writers? Way Worse Than Blog Commenters

They say blog commenters are the worst people ever. But "they" have never worked at a magazine or newspaper. Here's New York magazine columnist Will Leitch's snailmail correspondence today.


From the Desk of Charles Schumer: The Collected Letters

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

We are writing to express our concern regarding recent changes to the Facebook privacy policy. Providing opt-in mechanisms for information sharing instead of expecting users to go through long and complicated opt-out processes is a critical step towards maintaining clarity and transparency.

Charles Schumer, April 27, 2010.


Have Some Bacon! You and I, We Are Going to Die

The New Yorker gets mail about its review of Jonathan Safran Foer's vegetarian book. Including someone who said he was writing from the parking lot of a slaughterhouse: "I wonder if Foer has ever visited, or considered the impact of, a thousand-acre soybean monoculture. We have demanded cheap food, and so we have received cheap, destructive food production. Second, vegetarian moralism denies an essential fact of living: death. Everything dies, and not always in its due time." The great beyond eagerly waits for all forms of meat, including the writing kind of meat!


A Letter From Tolstoy

Would you like to buy something weird? Hammer Time is our guide to things that are for sale at auction: fantastic, consequential and freakishly grotesque archival treasures that appear in public for just a brief moment, most likely never to be seen again.

In January of 1908, Leo Tolstoy was still seven months from responding to George Bernard Shaw, who had sent him a copy of Man and Superman, but the Irish playwright was very much on the his mind. Tolstoy had read Shaw’s four act drama—twice—and many of the others that came before it. “His vulgarity is amazing,” Tolstoy wrote in his diary. “Not only does [...]


The Nobel Peace Prize For Espionage

Hello, would you like to buy something weird? Hammer Time is our guide to things that are for sale at auction: fantastic, consequential and freakishly grotesque archival treasures that appear in public for just a brief moment, most likely never to be seen again.

On February 28, 1933, the Reichstag Fire Decree gave Adolf Hitler the emergency powers he needed to suspend civil liberties, and the Nazi party wasted no time targeting political opponents.1

Carl von Ossietzky was arrested by the special police that very morning. It was not the first time the editor-in-chief of Die Weltbühne (The World Stage), the voice of leftist intellectuals, had been in a [...]


Why I Don't Live At The P.O.

So I keep hearing about how the Post Office wants to not deliver the U.S. Mail on Saturdays, but nobody's doing anything about it because of Congress or whatever, but personally I am in favor of not getting any U.S. Mail on Saturdays if that sacrifice meant we (as in, The People) would be keeping the U.S. Mail flowing the rest of the week. It's important to have the U.S. Mail out there on the street. Think about it, right now we have potentially vital agents in the War on Freedom out in the neighborhood most days of the week, patrolling. They walk right up to your house [...]


Letter Late

We're a tad tardy to this one but that only seems appropriate given the circumstances. From the letters page of the May 10th London Review of Books:

"I have just seen Brian Harrison’s 1986 review of my book Victorian Lives (LRB, 19 June 1986). He says my sources were not typical of contemporary prisoners; that I paint too bleak a picture of their experience; and do not recognise the ‘Victorian activism’ of the reformed prison. He is wrong on all three counts.

Philip Priestley Wells, Somerset"


Letters I Would Consent to Have Sex With, in Descending Order

1. I 2. J 3. L 4. P 5. O 6. Q


Letters From The Gulf, Parts 8 and 9: "BP Dropped Off Crates of Bottled Water"

Dan Horton, a friend and former colleague, works on tugboats out of the New York Harbor for a living. Two weeks ago, he flew down to Louisiana to take a job on a barge unloading crude oil from the skimmer boats that clean the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Crew are only allowed to send and receive one email a day; his girlfriend, Lori, passes along his daily email to friends and family. With their permission, we're passing them along to you. -Dave Bry