Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dear Mr. You

Mary-Louise Parker, best known as an award winning actress, recently released her first book titled Dear Mr. You. It is a literary memoir written as collection of letters to men (and a few boys) who have helped mold her into the person she is today. The letters have a varying degree of seriousness and intimacy. Some letters, such as those to her grandfather, father, and family friend, Father Bob, are very touching, while others are incredibly humorous and lighthearted. Her letters directed at college peers, ex-boyfriends, and college professors divulge more about Parker’s struggles than the letter’s intended subject. You get a glimpse into the type of person she is and how she came to certain phases of her life by the actions of the man she’s writing to—which, of course, is her intent. Some letters, such as the one to Big Feet, are to men who were not even acquaintances, but gave her perspective on life and showed the depth of her caring or how simple interactions leave lasting impressions. In a few interviews Parker has railed against the idea that this is a memoir through letters. She argues that she didn’t look at it that way because it seems odd to tell your life story using another person, like it is a weak idea, when in fact the letters make for a fantastic literary device to convey her experiences.

Parker’s writing is lyrical and very readable, making the book flow easily from one section to the next. Being a person who loves a good memoir, I can say this doesn’t disappoint. Due to the nature of her memoir, I think a staunch fiction reader could pick this up and enjoy the arc of the story told via the letters. Parker’s writing has appeared in Esquire, Bullett, and Bust, but this is her first book, hopefully not her last. She can easily add accomplished writer to her growing list of accolades.  

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