cover image Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us

Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us

Edited by Colleen Kinder. Algonquin, $19.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-64375-124-5

The power of brief encounters is illuminated in this moving collection from essayist and editor Kinder (Delaying the Real World). As Leslie Jamison writes in her foreword, a letter to a stranger is “an account of brushing up—just briefly—against the infinitude of another person,” and the 65 pieces that follow respond to Kinder’s call to write a “letter to the ones who haunt us.” In “To the Man I Believe Was Good,” Lauren Groff writes to an old man she met in Palermo, Italy, as a teenager, who bought her a drink when she had nowhere to stay, grappling with the true nature of his intentions. Monet Thomas describes in “To the Pharmacist on Futong West Street” her encounters with a brisk pharmacist in Beijing, whose presence grounded her when she felt lost, and Sarah Perry recounts in “To the Woman Who Walked Beside Me” the maternal love she felt from a stranger in New York City who saw to her safe return home. Though the prompt is the same, the premise never gets tired, with the globe-trotting writers covering the gamut from strangers who offered a sense of safety or a sense of chaos. Bright and hopeful, this anthology is sure to delight avid travelers. (Oct.)