cover image Letters from Amherst: Five Narrative Letters

Letters from Amherst: Five Narrative Letters

Samuel R. Delany. Wesleyan Univ., $24.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8195-7820-4

In this sidebar of sorts to Delany’s revelatory 1988 autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water, the acclaimed science fiction writer collects five of his letters to longtime friends—librarian Robert S. Bravard, fiction writer Erin McGraw, and English professor Kathleen Spencer—written between 1988 and 1991, when he was a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. They reveal the author’s genial and gregarious personality as he writes candidly about his fiction writing, his friendships with editors and associates in the SF field, and his sexual relationships, especially with his life partner Dennis Rickett, who was homeless in New York City for six years before moving with Delany to Amherst. The colorful detail that Delany provides makes for captivating reading about a wide variety of experiences, including a breakfast he cooked for fellow SF great Judith Merril, a family funeral for his uncle Hubert, and an interview of him by an amusingly amateurish film crew. Letters written between 1984 and 1988 to Iva, his daughter with poet Marilyn Hacker, and presented as an appendix, show him to be a devoted father. Delany’s legion of fans will relish this book’s many insights into his personal life. (June)