The Letter Left to Me

The Letter Left to Me

by Joseph McElroy
     
 

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Joseph McElroy brings to life a startling story of loss in 'The Letter Left To Me.' Written by a father to his son almost three years before the father's death, the letter in question is discovered a few days after the funeral. Powerful and moving when the boy first opens the envelope, his father's sober woprds warn him against life's daily distractions.

'The

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Overview

Joseph McElroy brings to life a startling story of loss in 'The Letter Left To Me.' Written by a father to his son almost three years before the father's death, the letter in question is discovered a few days after the funeral. Powerful and moving when the boy first opens the envelope, his father's sober woprds warn him against life's daily distractions.

'The Letter Left To Me' is alive with the creative force of a young man struggling to make sense of himself and the people around him. In a style deceptively simple and direct, McElroy has again extended his range. The result is an American classic.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The nameless narrator of this short, abortive fiction is 15 when his father, a Wall Street employee, dies and his mother hands him a letter kept in a desk drawer for years. This rueful, typewritten note, ostensibly from his dead father, is full of ringing, platitudinous advice urging the youth to make something of his life and not waste his abilities, as dad had done at Harvard. Soon the boy's Brooklyn relatives have distributed 100 handsomely printed copies of the letter to friends and family. When he goes off to college, he finds the dean somehow has a copy of the letter, which he dubs ``Lessons in Survival'' and disseminates to the freshman class. McElroy ( Women and Men ) has spun a convoluted, rambling interior monologue reflecting the narrator's emotional numbness, his confusion, his social snobbery and his unresolved grief over the loss of his father. But the mysterious, self-perpetuating letter is like a private symbol, its meaning known only to the author and his mixed-up alter ego. (October)
Library Journal
Sometime in the late 1940s, a teenage boy receives a letter from his recently deceased father. Written several years before the man knew that he was ill, and found among his papers after his death, the letter is full of stern, fatherly platitudes. Friends of the family praise the letter extravagantly; copies are printed up and mailed to their friends. A few years later, one of the boy's college professors analyzes the letter in class. Most of the students find it stilted and phony, and the boy must come to his own conclusions. This uncharacteristically short novel is written in McElroy's usual style: details accrue slowlyvery slowlythrough repeated examination of a few key dramatic episodes. Women and Men ( LJ 2/15/87) remains the essential work, but larger fiction collections will want this one as well. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law School Lib., Los Angeles

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780881845365
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/28/1993
Pages:
152
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.30(h) x 0.70(d)

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