Monday, February 06, 2006

Burn your letters!

Just received my birthday present to myself in the mail today: The Bukowski/Purdy Letters 1964-1974 (edited by Seamus Cooney).

{Rule #3 in life...always buy yourself a birthday present, then you're guaranteed to get the one thing you actually want.}

I am a fan of Charles Bukowski's poetry, and Al Purdy' was a delight to find that this book existed. I requested it from over a year ago, and voila! they found a copy in time for my birthday!

Anyway, here's part of Al Purdy's foreword:

"I am, of course, writing this because the publisher wants me to. I can't think of any other reason. This Buk-Purdy thing was a private correspondence, which neither of us expect to see in public, gossiping away like a dumb loudspeaker. I do confess, it makes me a little morose, the way I don't feel when I have lost myself in poems. I hope nobody likes me for it, but someone may be slightly interested."
Reminds me of the title of the collected Robertson Davies correspondence, For Your Eyes Alone (2000) -- published after his death of course. Also reminiscent of Virginia Woolf, who, I believe, asked Leonard in her suicide note to burn her diaries.

In my diaries, I usually write to myself-in-the-future, not some unsuspected/ing public. My letters, when I go back and read them later, are such a mess of triviality that I'm surprised my correspondent even responded...But I'm lucky. I have no pretensions of becoming a famous writer.

To those of you with a desire to be famous: Publish your own letters and diaries (a la Anais Nin), or burn them yourself...don't expect your heirs to do the latter for you.

And to those of you who forget to do it -- your adoring public will devour your spelling mistakes and inanities with love and reverence.



a h m a d said...

"Burn your letters"... or now in the digital age, we better delete our emails.

By the way, I am adopting this idea of "always buy yourself a birthday present" starting from this birthday. I deserve it. :)

Lori said...

I've been doing it for years!


Noblese said...

Rule 3 sounds good, something to live by. Am wondering about the other rules too, are they also that good.