The Letters Page Vol 2, edited by Jon McGregor
Jon McGregor: his “literary journal in letters” features him and 11 other contemporary authors on the theme of copies. Photograph: Roberto Ricciuti/Getty
The Letters Page Vol 2
Jon McGregor (ed)
Book Ex Machina
This “literary journal in letters” features 12 contemporary authors, including its editor, Jon McGregor, on the theme of copies. “Almost all our human knowledge and thoughts and beliefs, science and observations and versions of history have survived, been transmitted and evolved via copies,” writes Ioanna Mavrou. Joe Dunthorne’s clever, imaginary prisoner’s letter is a “univocalism”, a piece of writing using only one vowel, in this case “e”. Nicole Flattery, from Mullingar (and a fellow Irish Times reviewer), tells of two families she was “farmed out” to while growing up; in a poignantly humorous letter she observes: “Most just plagiarise from whatever is available to them.” Rowena Macdonald’s letter is most striking as it reproduces an actual letter from 1982, which she found in an old cookbook; the letter reflects unrequited love, and Macdonald’s comments on it are bitter-sweet and funny. Jonathan Ellis’s letter, recounting his dad’s sudden death in his sleep, is a moving piece, especially the reference to his dad’s last “letters”, yellow Post-it notes, all of which Ellis has kept. Letter writing may be a dying art, but the imaginative and creative range of this collection shows there’s much life in it yet.