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The Letter Left to Me
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The Letter Left to Me

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  6 reviews
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 words warn him against life's daily distractions.

'The Letter Left To
Hardcover, 151 pages
Published August 12th 1988 by Alfred a Knopf
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
“This was something that stayed a secret for a while and then emerged from that unseen room into the public world, where it circulated, freely and openly, even though its true, undercover nature, its stolenness, remained concealed.” Ron Loewinsohn Magnetic Fields(s)

Joseph McElroy published The Letter Left to Me in the year following the publication of his massive Women and Men; the former a slender 152 pages, the later a massive 1191. Page count is not the only slendering found in Letter. The le
Nov 20, 2013 Jonathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
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"He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoo
It's interesting to read a novel by an experimental writer tackling subject matter that seems more suited for a writer with earnestly romantic sensibilities. Why is it so damn difficult to avoid mentioning the background of a writer such as Joseph McElroy? His prose; its elliptical opacity, its tendency to grasp everything at once, its introspective inquisitiveness, just seems to demand an explanation of sorts. This stuff clearly isn't normal. Stories do not read this way, even if it's a first-p ...more
Charles Kell
This is McElroy's shortest novel (152 pgs), following the sprawling Women and Men (1,192 pgs), and one that leaves the reader with a lonely ache--that momentary feeling of loss that you get after finishing a great, masterful work.

A young man is remembering an event--the sudden death of his father when he was a boy. It is a loss that might have been mourned and put behind him except for an odd event within the larger one: the receipt of a letter the father wrote him, to be opened after his death,
Mike Polizzi
McElroy uses the long sentence to draw the reader in. The result is an intimate view of a young man's processing of his father's death. Hypnotic, beautifully observed and humane. He manages to dramatize the action while maintaining his character's dignity and proceeds along the quiet exposition of the thousands of small changes that make up a significant loss. Excellent.
M. Sarki
Sorry, but I did not think much of this title. Quite a bore actually. Little to be gained by reading it.
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Women and Men: Letter Left To Me -- 1988 10 25 Jul 11, 2014 08:03AM  
Joseph McElroy is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist.

McElroy grew up in Brooklyn Heights, NY, a neighborhood that features prominently in much of his fiction. He received his B.A. from Williams College in 1951 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1952. He served in the Coast Guard from 1952–4, and then returned to Columbia to complete his Ph.D. in 1961. As an English instru
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