Custom Search

Monday, April 23, 2007

Samara O'Shea Shows Us How Letters Remain Center Stage In the 21st Century

Word for the Week


Currently, I'm reading Samara O'Shea's For the Love of Letters: A 21st Century Guide to The Art of Letter Writing. It's the perfect how-to book to have on one's shelf in light of recent events and the time of year. We've suffered yet another national loss, the shootings at Virginia Tech, and ironically, we are about to enter the month of May, the month when many graduate from high school and college.

Both of these circumstances, seem to bring our focus upon a heightened sense of vulnerability and the desire to cement and create bonds with friends and loved ones. When moments of crisis strike, our impulse is to connect with our friends, family and loved ones. Where our predecessors relied on newspapers, television and correspondence, we have the added benefit of the internet and mobile communication. Aside from cell phone calls, we send text messages and emails to confirm the well being of the people about whom we care. These for all intents and purposes are letters--albeit most likely more brief than a traditional letter, but they're still conversations in text.

O'Shea packs great deal of information regarding letter writing in her 172 page volume. She discusses a broad range of letters, those regarding getting together as well as saying goodbye and those which recommend along with angry letters which may offend. She also touches on letters written for matters of business, thank you letters and letters of recommendation.

Her writing style is direct and conversational. The book flies. Her letter writing instructions are simple to follow. She also sprinkles example letters by herself, both from her personal life and her professional life, as a letter writer for hire at, and famous authors, John Keats' declaration of love, Edgar Allen Poe's angry adieu to his estranged parent and Andrew Carnegie's letter to close a deal, are featured among others.

O'Shea makes a convincing case for letter writing. The historical background of letters that she offers illustrates how letters can change lives and shape deaths (see the letter by Marie Antoinette pages 39-41). Take the time to read this book. Then, give a gift; write a letter.

No comments:

Great Writing Prompt

WORDS from Everynone on Vimeo.