1984: Selected Letters

Samuel R. Delany, Author Voyant Publishing $17.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-9665998-1-7
Many of Delany's novels (The Madman; Dhalgren) are colloquial, even conversational in tone and plot, packed tight with observations, alternate soliloquies and riffs. It's what makes them unique, as well as great literature. With the same grand sweep of scope, language and intelligence that has distinguished his novels, this collection of 56 letters, written primarily in 1984, details the author's interests, work, passions, obsessions and everyday life during George Orwell's apocalyptic year. With reflections on a wide range of topics--from the Wagner Ring cycle, the politics of book club publishing and the history of the novel to sadomasochism and AIDS--Delany's correspondence has an almost 18th-century feel. Of course, he also uses it to communicate personal information, frequently quoting poems, other people's letters and essays, and his own journals. He details his work and private life in full: one letter recommends the daughter of close friends for private school; a long, grueling, section in another letter details his problems with the IRS; another reflects on painful discussions of difficulties in a close friendship; others offer explicit descriptions of his sexual activity, both at home and in public places. A wonderful complement to his autobiographical writings (Heavenly Breakfast; The Motion of Light in Water), these letters are as much literature as any of Delany's fiction. As ever, his intelligence, kindness, empathy, critical skills and intense interest in writing, art and the world around him shine through. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
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