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Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  110 ratings  ·  27 reviews
*2016 Edgar Award Finalist*
*2016 Anthony Award Finalist*
*2016 Macavity Award Finalist*

In 1970, Ross Macdonald wrote a letter to Eudora Welty, beginning a thirteen-year correspondence between fellow writers and kindred spirits. Though separated by background, geography, genre, and his marriage, the two authors shared their lives in witty, wry, tender, and at times profoundl
Hardcover, 568 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Arcade (first published July 7th 2015)
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Start your review of Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald
Bill Kerwin

When Kenneth Millar (detective novelist “Ross Macdonald”) read in a New York Times interview that Eudora Welty had once almost sent him a fan letter but then refrained because she feared to do so might be “icky,” he sent her a fan letter of his own. Thus began a correspondence that would last twelve years, from 1970 to 1982, only ending six months before Millar's death from the complications of Alzheimer's.

The times they met face to face could be counted almost on one hand, yet their first meeti
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing's as if you had stopped time and handed me a glass which admits the future to our present vision, and the past too, joining present and future times, as if we had lived beyond life, as indeed we are going to do now to some extent, together.
p. 344, Kenneth Millar (aka Ross Macdonald) to Eudora Welty; in response to her asking to dedicate The Eye of the Story to him

The two editors of this volume are the authors, separately, of the biographies of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald and have d
Diane Barnes
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: slow-reads
It's hard to review a letter collection between 2 people because it has no basis for any type of criticism or praise; it is what it is. However, I did enjoy these letters, read by me over a 5 month period. It gave me insight into Welty's actions and feelings, and introduced me to an author I know of but have never read, Ken Millar, aka Ross MacDonald. Personal correspondence has become a lost art.
Mississippi Library Commission
Lovely letters by two master story tellers... From time to time it plodded a bit, but the commentary by Suzanne Mars and Tom Nolan made this a fairly fascinating peek into the lives of Eudora Welty and Kenneth Millar. If you haven't already, be sure to pick up What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell. (Ms. Eudora knew how to write a right fine letter!) ...more
Oct 10, 2015 added it
Perfectly nice, well-written letters written by perfectly nice people. Do I wish there was some spice? YES, I DO.
theresa Younce
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book on my Book Club list and though I live in Jackson, MS, and am quite familiar with Welty, I was not sure I would like this. I did though, very much. The two authors (one a biographer of Macdonald and the other a biographer of Welty) worked together and let you know what was going on in the lives of each as each letter or group of letters from a particular year are read. The development of friendship and love between these two people and yet their careful conformity to their moral ...more
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 18tbr, non-fiction
Eudora Welty and Ken Millar (aka mystery writer Ross MacDonald) write to each other about their work, their reading, and their lives in these thoughtful and surprisingly simpatico letters. The later letters are hard to read as Ken Millar develops Alzheimer’s disease, and the friendship comes to its end with his death. As much as I enjoyed Ms Welty’s letters to and from her New Yorker editor William Maxwell, I thought these letters gave more insight into her character, thoughts about writing, and ...more
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
An incredible compilation of letters between Eudora Welty and Ken Millar, aka Ross MacDonald, master of the hard-boiled detective story. The close correspondence between these two accomplished authors gives the reader a glimpse into an intimate friendship and reveals the mutual respect that existed between them. This is a great view into the heart and soul of the two individuals. I applaud the efforts and research of Suzanne Mars and Tom Nolan and the acknowledgements, permissions, and extensive ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have long been a fan of Eudora Welty, but was not familiar with Ross Macdonald (Ken Millar.) Their letters are beautiful, and they document a relationship that started in a seemingly silly way.

Mind you, I am biased: I love correspondence. I love setting down thoughts on paper, and letting them go through the US Postal Service. This is how I conducted the one true romance of my life, and -to this day- both parties cherish that process, believing it is an intrinsic part of who we are as a coupl
Lancelot Link
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
By far my favorite book I read this year. I was enjoying it so much I would stop reading it at times, partly because I didn’t want it to end and partly because I knew enough about Millar and Welty to know how this was going to end. A true love tragedy told in letters. A delicious peek over the shoulders of two incredible talents who talked about books and writing and reading and life. Truly a book I absolutely cherish.
Linda Gaines
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved reading letters by two gifted writers. I haven't read any Ross MacDonald (not my genre) but I will look for a short story to see how he writes. I'm glad that a woman, I so identify with (birthday April 13) had such a good and loving male friend.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book every star. The whole collection is overshadowed by what we know is coming, what we know will happen to Ken, the veil that will drop over his memory in time. That knowledge looms throughout, but does nothing to dampen the beauty of what passes between them. Late in the collection Welty writes Millar, "Nothing can change that companionship for a venture, if you're a child or if you're long-travelled in experience - I feel less & less that our years tell us all that m ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Going into this novel, I didn't realize how long it was since I read it in e-book format. I certainly never lost interest in the developing, deep friendship between Welty and Macdonald. There were times that their correspondence was so entirely book and publishing related that I did question whether or not some abridgment wouldn't have added to the overall reading experience of the collection. In the end, I saw the error of my ways. By the time Macdonald's health is critically impacting his life ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
It got me thinking about the lost art of letter-writing, even more than the particular lives of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald. I'm not convinced that they were lovers, but it is clear that they had a very strong connection, and provided a life-line to one another.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Their (the Millars) marriage, though much more companionable in time, came to be one of almost separate lives beneath one roof. Still, Ken honored the vow “till death do us part” and expected others to do likewise.

“[H]e had such control: the most controlled person I ever saw. […] He respected other people, in a very grave way, and he would wait for them to speak.” -Eudora Welty

I used to thrive on loneliness but now I depend on friends. –Ken Millar

[T]he intention of popular art… is to ex
Apr 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Meanwhile there are letters was a compilation of correspondence between Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald, covering 13 years in the 1970s and '80s. I did not get the whole romance part of it - just did not see that at all. They read as affectionate and understanding, letters that show each other great support and sharing of their mutual profession. But romance? The most I might say would be that one or both may have thought, "another time, another place". The story was sad all the way through, but ...more
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, letters
I wish this had been Tom Nolan's book instead of Suzanne Marrs book. The book seemed slightly biased toward Eudora Welty, and actually maybe that fits with their current respective places in US literature. I, however, am a Margaret Millar/Ross Macdonald fan, and I felt as though the attempt to indicate some sort of deep relationship or even romance between Eudora and Kenneth was, well...something maybe forced upon the Editor(s) because sex sells?

Overall, the Editor did a good job of noting, do
Feb 18, 2016 rated it liked it
This seemed like a good example of two writers who wrote with the expectation that their correspondence would someday be immortalized in such a book. Now, my middling rating does not really address the content of these letters, nor the authors' diligence in collecting and commenting on it. These letters just don't, for the most part, seem spontaneous and real. And about half of them seem to be taken up by the respective writers congratulating themselves on having established this epistolary frie ...more
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The most interesting thing about this book is the fact of the friendship between Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, and that the fact of their friendship became a topic in their letters and its own unique thing that only they really understood. I also greatly enjoyed their discussions of what they were reading and what they were writing, and what they thought of various writers. Of less interest for me was the information about the minutiae of their daily lives. Their correspondence had an elegiac ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it liked it
Probably more meaningful if one were a devoted fan of these two authors' work--I don't know Macdonald's at all and have read just one novella by Welty--but even without appreciating the specific content of this dialogue, I was moved to see an intimate friendship develop late in life through correspondence of two people who initially were strangers. Everyone who likes to write letters should be lucky enough to develop such a an engaging, personal, and sustained correspondence. A meaningful compan ...more
Oct 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the subject matter but i have to read it again when i have more energy and focus - the more mundane aspects of everyday life contained in this correspondence (as it can't help but be present) made my eyes glaze over. That being said, I still highly recommend the book - and I say that as someone who had only heard of Eudora Welty and never heard at all of Ross MacDonald/Ken Millar. I now want to read whatever I can get my hands on from these two people.
Aug 03, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: sample, nonfiction
Led to this book by a great review in LATimes. Sample was extremely interesting...and I don't even usually like this sort of thing. Beautiful letters, well written...tell quite a story. Must finish!!
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book you can pick up in fits and starts when you want to get a feeling of a good relationship between two people. Mostly literary in nature, but you get the feeling that they were true soulmates.
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Do we write letters anymore? Not likely with email and texting, but good to be reminded of pen to paper and descriptive life in the moment for these two friends, authors, admirers of one another. A pleasant read!
Paul Wilner
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A masterpiece of repression, as well as expression, but...beautifully done and tastefully edited.
Sandra. Cheshire
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Suzanne Marrs is the author of Eudora Welty: A Biography and One Writer's Imagination: The Fiction of Eudora Welty and is a recipient of the Phoenix Award for Distinguished Welty Scholarship. She is a professor of English at Millsaps College. "

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