It’s no surprise that I love letters—writing them, receiving them, opening up envelopes, licking envelopes closed, all of it. So imagine my delight when one of my favourite authors, Jon McGregor (who also happened to write the closest thing I’ve ever read to a letter writing manifesto) began a literary journal in letters, The Letters Page.
Then imagine my EXTREME delight when this online letter-filled literary journal started doing limited edition runs, printed by Book Ex Machina, an independent imprint based in Nicosia, Cyprus. The first one was a stunner and I’m happy to report the second one (that officially comes out this month, with a limited run of 1,000) is too.
Jon on the creation of the publication: …I wanted it to be a literary journal that could find an underhand way of being literary; to take the self-consciousness out of being literary. I’ve always been interested in the kinds of writing people do when they don’t think they’re being asked To Write, and I’d been thinking about letters as a form; wondering about the differences between letters-on-paper and emails, reflecting on my own letter-writing history, noticing the democracy of correspondence as a literary practice. So the idea was born.
Letters (usually) exist as single documents, unlike emails. We rarely have any record of the letters we send, only of the letters we receive. It’s a rare type of exchange in a world that is filled with sent inboxes where words or ideas or names are easily searchable.
But the letters in this volume ARE copies, lifted from scrawling cursive and blocky printing (our hands so often out of practice) and typeset and bound and mailed. And not only are the copies themselves, they are also ABOUT copies. Each of the 12 letters focuses on the concept of influence and theft—using Georges Perec’s univocalism, the tradition of copying in hip-hop, kids “(plagiarizing) from whatever is available to them” including from adopted families, the inherent copying of genetics we all carry with us, parent-to-child.
And lucky you, books are currently available for pre-order!
The Letters Page, Vol. 2, edited by Jon McGregor
With letters by Kit Caless, Darren Chetty, Sarah Dale, Joe Dunthorne, Jonathan Ellis, Nicole Flattery, Rowena Macdonald, Ioanna Mavrou, Andrew Mcmillan, Chimene Suleyman, Matthew Welton, and Jon McGregor.