My husband reads book reviews, and based on one of those he bought Dear Mr. You. It was another woman author writing about her life, thinking about her life, the way I did in Daring to Date Again, and he thought I’d like it. (I prefer to read the book first, the reviews afterwards.)
I commend the late Mike Nichols, who is mentioned in the Acknowledgements as being one of the people who encouraged Parker to keep writing. He knew a good thing when he saw it. Not many actresses became fine writers, or maybe I just don’t know about them because I don’t read the book review section.
Parker has a way all her own. She tumbles, grasps at straws, cries, rages, and scrambles outside the boundaries all the time, her feet never quite under her. The writer Elmore Leonard was once asked what made his books so well paced and he answered, “I just cut out all the boring stuff.” But what if ALL the boring stuff were cut out, including the names of the characters, the contexts, the aftermaths, just the heart of the matter was left. And what if a book were written just about the heart of the matter. That would be this book.
It is more like a poem than a book. She begins in a teenage tizzy, and winds it up and up and up until the last few chapters, which are jewels wrought from the distilled language of humanity.
I feel sour about including a “but,” but I felt it was jiggly and episodic. It made me feel old the way I feel old when people say that these days the youngsters have a short attention span and can’t read more than a few pages at a time. Or when I see a dance program on television and in the middle of a pas de deux the camera switches to the ballerina’s face, then gets a shot from the feet up, then from the wings down. Once you’ve seen Fred Astaire dance in the movies, in one uninterrupted shot, full body, from one camera, you just want to strangle the person who thought it would be fun to interrupt the action for some fun shots. So maybe I just find it jiggly and episodic because I’m old; perhaps the youngsters would find it just right.
So much energy and heart went into writing this book that I can’t imagine her writing another, but from what I know after reading this, I would bet there will be more from Mary-Louise Parker. I hope I live long enough to watch her grow old.