Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bring on the mail!

  I’m currently experiencing a thing for story form. I get excited by the different ways that authors tell their stories. I think I've mentioned a couple of times my attraction to epistolary novels.
 Recently I read and enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and I clearly recall the first one I ever read which was Daddy Long-Legs when I was at school. I now have a copy on my iPad.
 It has led me to look for other stories told through letters, for example John Marsden’s Letters from the Inside. There’s also The Colour Purple, and Lady Susan. I was reading an essay from 1987, about the letters of Frankenstein, and the writer referred to “the now stagnant epistolary form”. It may have gone out of fashion because of the rapid changes in communication starting with the telephone, but if so, then I think it is experiencing a revival. Both the Guernsey book and the Marsden book were written in the last eleven years. The issue is to justify the form – Why would someone write a letter nowadays? The Guernsey book is set just after WW2, so letters and telegrams are appropriate, and the Marsden story is based on prison correspondence. If the story fits, it can work.
Naturally, times have moved on - but the form has evolved rather than stagnated, with stories now told through modern technology. Meg Cabot's funny The Guy Next Door was the first book I read that used emails, as does Siobhan Curham’s Dear Dylan which I read during the summer.
And it doesn’t just stop there; Lauren Myracle tells stories with titles such as TTFN and L8R G8T using IM conversations.
Twitter has stories told via texts, and if they haven't been already, I'm sure that some will make into print too.
Alice Kuiper’s Life on the Refrigerator Door, is based on Post-it notes between a mother and daughter.  A moving story, with a brilliantly realistic and evocative form, which shows the state of their communication from the outset. And there isn’t any technology in sight, so pleasingly we are back to letters. Modern letters.
So I was wondering if anyone out there had any recommendations of novels that are based completely on correspondence, in whatever form, letters; emails; texts or IM, or something else that I haven’t even thought of?

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