Utne Blogs > Literature

Beautifully Curated Correspondence

 by Danielle Maestretti


Tags: Great Writing, correspondence, letters, Letters of Note, Shaun Usher, Iggy Pop, J.D. Salinger, Ronald Reagan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Danielle Maestretti,

Prepare to drop what you’re doing and spend the rest of the day (or even the rest of the week) digging through the awe-inspiring collection of correspondence at Letters of Note, a digital treasure trove curated by freelance writer Shaun Usher. I hardly know where to begin calling out favorite letters from the hundreds he’s posted, but I do love Iggy Pop’s heartwarming (yes, heartwarming) response, ca. 1995, to a young woman who wrote to him after falling upon hard times. An excerpt:

thankyou for your gorgeous and charming letter, you brighten up my dim life. i read the whole fucking thing, dear. of course, i'd love to see you in your black dress and your white socks too. but most of all i want to see you take a deep breath and do whatever you must to survive and find something to be that you can love. you're obviously a bright fucking chick, w/ a big heart too and i want to wish you a (belated) HAPPY HAPPY 21st b'day and happy spirit.

There’s plenty to warm your heart, of course, including a lovely note from Ronald Reagan to Nancy on the eve of their 20th anniversary and an incredible, instructive letter from the creator of The Ren & Stimpy Show to a 14-year-old cartoonist. There is also plenty of celebrity cursing: a, shall we say, emotional fax from Hunter S. Thompson; a letter from Marlon Brando to frequent collaborator Tennessee Williams (“Success is a real and subtle whore, who would like nothing better than to catch you sleeping and bite your cock off”); a memo from South Park’s Matt Stone describing, in great detail, which scenes they’ve altered in order to secure an ‘R’ rating (“We did cut the word ‘hole’ from ‘asshole’ as per our conversation”).

I’ll leave you to your productivity-destroying explorations of the site, but not before pointing to a 1981 letter from J.D. Salinger in which he weighs in on, among other things, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let’s just say that the mind responsible for Holden Caulfield was not terribly amused by Harrison Ford’s heroic antics.

(Thanks, Virginia Quarterly Review.)

Source: Letters of Note