Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dear Holden, Quit Whining.

Ever wanted to tell Mina that she was too good for Jonathan Harker? Or tell Sal from On the Road to get a job?

Letters with Character gives us the opportunity (though it does not promise responses.) The blog publishes letters written by real people to fictional characters.

Some people play the idea for laughs. For example, Jill Powers suggests Cathy from Wuthering Heights stop dating relatives.

“Please stop lusting after your cousins. First, ewww. Second, hasn’t anyone explained inbreeding to you (I would think this would be of particular concern to you considering the family tendency towards madness)? And third, you can do better. Trust me, those cousins of yours? They’re no catch.”

Others use it to criticise a character or the book. Michael Powell says to Ishmael of Moby Dick: “I know you think that your intended audience is deeply ignorant about whales, but rest assured that many of us have learned about them in school. Please stop with the woodcut print reviews and return to the story.”

(Michael Powell is so right that I’m giving him his own blog tag. He better not waste it.)

Some writers insert themselves into the action. For example, Florentyna Leow details her bad romance with Hamlet.

“Let’s get this straight: you are not all that. But that’s why I like you: you’re as screwed up as any one of us. The Romantics made you the Edward Cullen of the 19th century, but I never bought it. (In my mind’s eye, you’re David Tennant.) I suspect that in real life you would infuriate me a lot and make sexist/smutty jokes all the time, but you’d still be a very charming and witty piece of work. I have to write an essay on you now (How about you come over instead? We’ll have lots of fun punning together). Is there any way you could not die? I’d like you to be my jig-maker.”

A few just want to express their appreciation to the character. Alyssa Finnegan — who has the prettiest name ever, by the way — writes to Alice, “I just wanted to let you know that I truly believe your tales of Wonderland. All the other grown-ups refuse to believe you, I know, but I do. I believe you. I know in my heart that the Cheshire Cat, The Mad Hatter, and everyone else really exist, even that nasty Queen of Hearts.”

Completely unrelated, Jacket Copy, the LA Times book blog, is asking bookish types about their favorite summer reads. Most of them use it as an opportunity to wax nostalgic about their teen years.

-Jason Lea, JLea@News-Herald.com



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