Four Letter Word: Invented Correspondence from the Edge of Modern Romance

Overview

"Let us begin this letter, this prelude to an encounter, formally, as a declaration, in the old-fashioned way: I love you. You do not know me (although you have seen me, smiled at me). I know you (although not so well as I would like. I want to be there when your eyes flutter open in the morning, and you see me, and you smile. Surely this would be paradise enough?). So I do declare myself to you now, with pen set to paper. I declare it again: I love you."

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Overview

"Let us begin this letter, this prelude to an encounter, formally, as a declaration, in the old-fashioned way: I love you. You do not know me (although you have seen me, smiled at me). I know you (although not so well as I would like. I want to be there when your eyes flutter open in the morning, and you see me, and you smile. Surely this would be paradise enough?). So I do declare myself to you now, with pen set to paper. I declare it again: I love you."

Is there any communication more potent than the love letter? Is there any charge greater than seeing those words on paper? The editors of this collection decided to ask some of the most important writers of our time to compose a fictional love letter - breathing new life into a forgotten custom, and affording words themselves the power of seduction that they richly deserve. The result is an iridescent picture of what love looks like in the twenty-first century: a collage of methods and moods. Each letter is radically different from the others, and all but one are published for the first time. A perfect gift, this book is also an ingenious showcase for many of our most beloved writers.

Love: a vague word for an emotion so ethereal it's not always possible to demonstrate. But there still exists an assumption that experiences - and, by extension, the emotions that experiences evoke - are more resonant when you write them down. And it's that faith, that belief that writing down these naked, shocking, inadvisable and probably destructive feelings make them worthwhile, that powers this collection, each piece of which is a testimony to the creative powers of our leading writers today, and every piece of which will move you.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416569732
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2008
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joshua Knelman is an award-winning writer and editor and frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail newspaper. He lives in Toronto.

Rosalind Porter is an editor at Granta and lives in London.

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Read an Excerpt

Jonathan Lethem

Dear E(arth),

I am writing to tell you to give up. You may already be a winner, the kind of winner who wins by losing, rolling on your back and showing me your soft parts, letting me tickle and lap and snort at your supplicant vitals. Perhaps I should put this more forcefully: GIVE UP. You stand no chance. Resistance is futile, futility is resistant, reluctance is flirtatious, relinquishment is freedom. I love you and I am better than you in every way - grander, greater, glossier, more glorious, more ridiculous, energetic, faster in foot races and Internet dial-up speed, hungrier, more full of sex and fire, better-equipped with wit and weaponry. I'm taller than you and can encircle you with my lascivious tongue. Admit this and admit me. By opening this envelope you have been selected; from among the billions upon trillions of amoebic entities, you've been plucked up from the galaxy's beach like a seashell by a god. Something in you sparkled for a moment (terribly unlikely it means anything much in the scheme of things); absurd that noticing you squeezed somehow on to the agenda of one such as me. But I was amused - don't ask me why, it's practically random, like a lottery. Yet you'll never be able to spend the wealth of my love, to run through it and waste it like the hapless lottery winner you are. Though you may try, you'd never spend it in a dozen profligate lifetimes. My eyes settled on you in a weak moment, and you'll never see another. No, I'm an edifice, an enigma; to one such as you my science is like magic. Don't delay, act now, give up. You have been selected by a higher being from another realm to be siphoned from among your impoverished species to join me, to be seated in the empty throne beside me (only because I'd never troubled to glance to one side before to notice a seat existed there - not, somehow, until my gaze lit on you) where none of your lowly cringing fellows has ever resided. You're unworthy but you'll be made worthy by the acclaim of my notice. I say again, I'm superior to you. You're tinsel, static, a daisy, a bubble of champagne that went to my head and popped, and I don't even know why I want you and you'd better not give me the chance to think twice. You'll find I've anticipated your responses and attached them below (see attachments, below). They're feeble and funny, helpless and endearing, and you've already blurted yes take me yes how can I resist yes I give up yes. So do I as I say now. You've already done it, you're in my arms like an infant, a ward, a swan. Give up, you gave up already, you're mine.

Love,
M(ars)

Compilation copyright © 2007 by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter

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Table of Contents

Contents Introduction Jonathan Lethem Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Adam Thorpe Lionel Shriver David Bezmozgis Chris Bachelder A. L. Kennedy Jeff Parker Francine Prose Graham Roumieu Gautam Malkani Miriam Toews James Robertson Etgar Keret Mandy Sayer Jeanette Winterson Michel Faber Hisham Matar Geoff Dyer Matthew Zapruder Carl-Johan Vallgren Joseph Boyden Neil Gaiman Valerie Martin Peter Behrens Ursula K. Le Guin Nick Laird Sam Lipsyte Panos Karnezis Jan Morris Hari Kunzru Anonymous Margaret Atwood Damon Galgut Audrey Niffenegger Juli Zeh Leonard Cohen Phil LaMarche M. G. Vassanji Tessa Brown Douglas Coupland Biographies Acknowledgements

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