Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Six of the best letter collections

R. Blakeslee Gilpin is the author of John Brown Still Lives! America’s Long Reckoning with Violence, Equality, and Change, winner of the C. Vann Woodward Prize for the best dissertation in Southern history. His writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The American Scholar, and the New York Times. An assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, Gilpin specializes in the history, literature, and culture of the American South

With Rose Styron, he edited the Selected Letters of William Styron.

One of Gilpin's favorite collections of correspondences, as told to The Daily Beast:
The Correspondence of Shelby Foote & Walker Percy
Edited by Jay Tolson

As a historian of the South, it just does not get much better than this! The syrupy drawl of Foote (which was captured at its most hyperbolic in Foote essentially narrating Ken Burns’s Civil War) interfaces with great depth, friendship, and humor with his lifelong friend, the novelist Walker Percy. These guys really get into the nuts and bolts of writing (outlines, drafts, critiques of each other’s work), the economic realities of being a writer (grim, struggling, wanting more), and what it means to be from the South and write about the South (pride and prejudice).
Read about the other entries on the list.

Also see: Frederic Raphael's five best books of notable correspondence by eminent men.

--Marshal Zeringue