Letters: Everyday Literature
March 28, 2010
“In a letter, speech becomes everyday literature.”
— Thomas Moore, Soul Mates
My oldest sister and I still correspond regularly by mail. I look forward to her newsy letters in my mailbox. I prefer letters to telephone calls.
If you feel nostalgic for letters, I recommend Letters of E. B. White Revised Edition, edited by Dorothy Lobrano Guth and Martha White, 2006. E. B. White was a master letter writer. He is down to earth, but wry and funny. He says of himself, “I discovered a long time ago that writing of the small things of the day, the trivial matters of the heart, the inconsequential but near things of this living, was the only kind of creative work which I could accomplish with any sincerity or grace. As a reporter, I was a flop, because I always came back laden not with facts about the case, but with a mind full of the little difficulties and amusements I had encountered in my travels.”
White wrote for the New Yorker, but he was a country boy at heart. I knew of him as the author or three delightful children’s books, Stuart Little, The Trumpet of the Swan, and Charlotte’s Web.
Reading White’s letters goes a long way toward satisfying my desire for snail mail. His are as good, or better, than letters from my real family!