J.M. Cornwell's Reviews > What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell

What There Is to Say We Have Said by Suzanne Marrs
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Aug 06, 2011

really liked it
Read in January, 2011

There is no more joyous find than the exchange of true friends and great minds, such is the gift of Bill Maxwell and Eudora Welty’s letters.

The art of letter writing, it seems, is a thing of the past and died when computers began appearing in everyone’s home. Email and instant messaging is so much easier and quicker and there is no need to wait for the mailman to bring news of friends and family.

In 1942 William Maxwell and Eudora Welty began corresponding, Bill because he had read and was interested in procuring Eudora’s stories for The New Yorker, thus beginning a beautiful friendship that lasted for fifty years. What There is to Say We Have Said contains some of their letters, from 1942 to 1996, and they are a revelation and a joy.

Too often, I view letters as listening in on a private conversation. Had Suzanne Marrs followed my thinking, she would have denied me the pleasure of the lasting friendship between two writers at the height of their power and the very real people they became to me through their letters. Marrs has chosen well and I am richer for having been privileged into Bill and Eudora’s world. The only thing I could have wished was to be with them at the round table at the Algonquin or a guest during their many visits together.

The letters also include Bill’s wife Emily’s correspondence to and from Eudora, Emmy as they call her, and provide another viewpoint into the lives of two master writers.

No two people were more suited to each other than Bill and Eudora. Both writers reveled in the word, playing infinitely with combinations and connections, and they also shared a love of roses, not just roses, but flowers and life, adding observations that ring with authenticity and are brimming with their love for the word and for each other’s friendship. What There is to Say We Have Said is a treasure trove of observations and snippets of the wonder Bill and Eudora created and found in other writers, a history of the love of words and the world. I have enjoyed being an eavesdropper and plan to visit often.
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