Saturday, September 24, 2011

Adult Non Fiction 340 - Day 2 - Minden

A definitive name for the hatbox full of letters has eluded me since the Picton Residency—today I think I finally got it.

An early working title, Orbiting N, served well at first. The donor had mused she liked the idea of being connected to so many different stories and lives so it seemed like a good fit. I liked the way it opened my mind to treating this series of letters as collection unto itself, but it also felt a little cold.

I’ve been mulling over At the Core as a replacement since Picton. I’m still playing catch-up working through the letters ( there are 340) and wanted to spend some more time with them before committing.  Today after reading about 50, I felt ready, and then got up to stretch my legs.

Like anyone’s collection of letters there is a bit of everything in the hatbox:  Birthday and Christmas cards; handmade mother’s day cards; love letters, break- up letters; Love Mom; Love Dad and Your Loving Grandparent letters. But today I was as taken by their uniqueness as I was their universality:

A newsy typewritten letter begins reporting someone “is having and affair, we all think with a lively co-ed-type and thinks that nobody knows, but we all do – you get the picture” and later turns to a recounting of “ the hang-up-on-each other phase” of a break-up.

Another letter recounts the writer’s sister has recovered memory over the past year implicating their father in her child sexual abuse and finishes with a description of a hate crime where the author was “slammed out of the blue” by someone “who mistook us for a gay male couple.”  

And a father’s 12-page apology  offers his version of an affair that resulted in a love child. 

How did I keep it this long, the secret: I left it to your mother to did not 
happen to be, we decided you were to be, you are very, very special. I love you so very much.”  

As I walked around the library I thought about how true it is that real life is stranger than fiction. I tried to shake it off, afraid I might actually write such a thing, took my seat and noticed for the first time that my installation is directly in front of the Adult Non Fiction stacks. A nod to library science seemed in order and appropriate.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy, I love your blog posts. I'm sorry to miss you in situ, reading the letters in the window, but your blog stories are lovely. Can't wait for the next one. cd.