Fan mail!

It’s a gray day in Lakewood. It matched my mood this morning. Realistically, it matches my mood of much of the past months.

I try to avoid just whining all the time in my semi-public comments, though. I end up doing a lot of bitching and whining on Twitter, I admit… but I try to limit that, here, and to find subjects about which I can write something positive. For my own benefit as much as anything else.

Some times it’s a struggle. But today, the most wonderful surprise arrived in the mail. An actual fan letter.

Disclosure, this is from a friend of mine. But we aren’t in contact often. The content of the letter is, almost entirely, praise of my book Cotton’s Library plus various musings that it inspired. Finally, IMO clinching “actual fan letter” status, this was an actual fucking letter delivered by USPS and typed on a typewriter.

Wow. Honestly, I find this possibly even more novel than a handwritten letter; I still encounter handwritten text relatively often, but when do I ever receive a message created with a typewriter?

I suppose I’ll just get it out of the way and address the hipster factor: 1) I’ve already gone on record as regarding these kinds of complaints as mostly snobbish and stupid, 2) my correspondent is a 40-something suburban dad and corporate cube-dweller, so if he’s a hipster then the term has officially lost even the pretense of meaning, and finally 3) I’ll just borrow from the letter, and respond to typewriter-inspired hipsterphobia with “a Bill Murrayish shrug and a fuck-em ‘hmmph.'”

Personally, the letter makes my day and would anyway, but I do like the novelty. I would be tempted to respond with a typewritten letter, but I have no idea where I would access a typewriter. As for faking one with DTP software and an inkjet, well, awkward to get judgmental now, right? … I guess everyone draws the line somewhere. If that would make someone else happy, cool, but I’ll probably just hand write a response.

So much that’s great in this letter, frankly, whatever its format but in this case the content and format also comment on one another. A longer excerpt:

I have found that my interest in print, in letter writing, and in old bound volumes, coincides with the weariness I feel with the glut of contemporary information. I love the access. Much of the content is guttural and moronic. Much isn’t, of course, but just try to find it in the cacophony. The Babel of scripture is alive and well.

I’ll just leave a simple amen, here, rather than getting off into derivative and less artful comments. Obviously, electronic media has many many many good points. (Contextual awareness…!)

Still, this letter was fantastic, and in addition to the various subtle qualities of receiving a typewritten document in my mailbox… it also enclosed a packet of tea. If nothing else, a good reminder that pretty much every medium has its particular strengths but they aren’t always automatic.

At least half of my printed mail goes directly into the recycling bin, after all. Much of the magic of a personal letter is, still, in the personal part.

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