So you can read my books

Monday, August 10, 2015


I have discovered another book that has enriched me:

What There Is to Say We Have Said: 

The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell 

Letter writing

 -- sadly, it is a lost art -- 

but then, I fear living life well has become a lost art, too.

 If you love the simple things of life, love writing, enjoy reading about the lives of writers 

and you savor the moments that aren't of great import, 

(but say so much about a person)

you will enjoy this book. These letters are splendid.

 I found myself enthralled with the 'little things' that some found boring. 

I love to read letters that are authentic and clearly not written with publication in mind.

 I always enjoy reading collection of correspondence between individuals 

partly because it gives me a voyeuristic view of a conversation I was never meant to be a part of. 

In reading this collection, you will discover the evolution of a relationship. 

It began formally between an editor and writer, but then like most relationships became deeply personal.

 Maxwell understood creativity:

 "a poet can never be certain, after writing one poem, that he will ever be able to write another. 

Training and experience can never be completely counted on: 

the 'breath', the 'inspiration' may be gone forever. All one can do is try to remain 'open' and hope to remain sincere.

 Openness and sincerity will protect the poet from... 

small emotions with which poetry should not, and cannot, deal: as well as form imitations of himself or others. 

The intervals between poems, as poets have testified down the ages, is a lonely time.

 But them, if the poet is lucky and in a state of grace, a new emotion forms, and a new poem begins, and all is, for a moment, well."

 Just like the champagne Maxwell loved, his intellect and Eudora's were twice fermented.

 First with their genius and then with their discipline, 

creating the perfect interplay between reality and the ethereal.

 Good writers slow down time for the reader.  

Welty and Maxwell seemed to relish every moment, rather than making everything rushed and urgent. 

It was as if they took the minutes of each day into the palms of their hands, 

touching them, slowly inspecting and memorizing them from every possible angle, before reluctantly releasing them. 

This was demonstrated most clearly in Maxwell's recounting of an evening with Isak Dinesen.

  It was as if he was personally slowing time down for the enjoyment of the moment that would soon pass by.

 Maybe in this way writing is like parenting, 
 if you want to be good at it you cannot be selfish. 

You have to be willing to spend time focusing on others.

What do you think of this theory, this book?


  1. Perhaps he was so "in the moment" with Dinesen that time did indeed seem to slow down.

    I grew up in a time of phonecalls, so I haven't written as many letters as I should. But my parents were good and habitual letter writers, and since I'm a packrat for correspondence I still have them all. Emails and texts just can't compare--they're not an art, just conveniences.

    1. Yes, emails are hastily scribbled and rushed. Letters were of another less rushed, more reflective age. The letter collections of great minds and authors breathe of another age it almost seems.

      Thanks for appreciating this reflective post. :-)

  2. Arrgh, another book i want to read.

    1. The great thing about volumes of letters exchanged between two people is that with a reading of just two letters, you have completed a whole within a whole. :-)