For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication

John O'Connell, Author
John O’Connell. Atria/Marble Arch, $20 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1880-4
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-78072-109-5
Open Ebook - 91 pages - 978-1-78072-120-0
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4767-1881-1
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This book-length essay argues that in a world increasingly driven by instantaneous, ephemeral electronic communication, a place still exists for the old-fashioned handwritten letter. O’Connell, like many lovers of the written word, delights in the sensuous physicality of fine paper and a favorite pen. But he is keenly aware of how profoundly different handwritten letters are from e-mails or tweets, demanding greater time and attention from writer and reader alike while possessing the potential to outlast both by centuries. O’Connell collects snippets from dozens of famous correspondents, from the thoughtful Seneca to the comic, anxious Evelyn Waugh, as well as emotionally powerful letters from soldiers to their families. Side excursions treat the reader to a quick history of the postal services that made all of this possible and to witty discursions on subgenres like love letters, “round-robin” family letters, and “legacy” letters from mothers to their unborn children. Although this book will not singlehandedly bring back the heyday of the first-class post, it will inspire readers to recognize and value one of the oldest and most intimately revealing forms of human communication. (Jan.)
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