Letters are full of worry. People fuss about receipt, timeliness, the legibility of the writing. It occurred to me that some anxiety might lend these formal letters a little personality. That is to say, I hope this letter reaches you in time. I hope you can read it, particularly since we only know you as “Reader.” I hope it hasn’t been lost, or stuffed and crushed in your mailbox.
This is the Epistolary Issue of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal, and it is dedicated to letters, missives, messages, and correspondence of every kind. In “Ceci n’est pas une lettre,” literary critic Rachael Scarborough King provides a brief history of the epistolary form and its current resurgence in pop culture and media. Kim Hayden, an archivist from Sacramento, offers a glimpse into the letters of serial killer Dorothea Puente. Juliana Chow and Gillian Osborne share personal letters they have written to each other — a beautiful archive of female friendship. Julietta Singh offers a letter to her daughter, Isadora, in anticipation of the difficulties in this world. Hanif Abdurraqib writes about a Tribe Called Quest. The novelist Halle Butler offers an excerpt from her upcoming book, The New Me. Fiction writer Sara Davis gives us two letters for Caroline, a very unresponsive pen pal.
This issue proves how expansive the epistolary form really is: The letter is self-reflexive, manifold and dynamic. And let me clear up any concern on your end — this is a letter you don’t have to answer. You can just sit with it and rest.
Editor, Quarterly Journal