Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday Letter Lore: "Unpack"

Today's letter, a reminder that not all letters need be lengthy, comes courtesy of one of my favorite new books: America 1900-1999: Letters of the Century. Hundreds of the letters by the famous, the infamous and the unknown. When a letter writer stops to read, and her mailbox is empty, this is what she picks up.

After disproving the predictions to win the White House -- and holding high the erroneous Chicago Tribune proclaiming Dewey's victory for the now iconic photo -- President Harry S. Truman received this short and sweet letter from his friend, comedian Bob Hope:

November 3, 1948

President Harry Truman
The White House
Washington, D.C.


Bob Hope

Some of my letters have been brief (though Mr. Hope, naturally, was far more successful at finding the wit that Shakespeare so lovingly associated with brevity) but others seemed to march toward some mysterious word limit that must be reached in order for a letter to have meaning. I can definitely think of times when I've rambled on needlessly, times when shorter indeed would have been sweeter.

So while I've certainly had opportunities to write one -- or two or three or seventy-seven -- word fewer, could I ever express myself with just one word? An interesting proposition indeed; what might it be? "Thanks"? "Sorry"? "Help"?

Write on.

ONE-WORD WISDOM: To discover what can really be done with one word, check out my friend's blog, Words.JenVisser.com. Jen has cleverly surmounted writer's block by sending cards to friends, asking them for words to use as writing prompts. Just as fun as reading what's she produced so far is perusing the "word list" and seeing what's to come!


Anonymous said...

Dear Lynn

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynn
Thanks for the tip on America 1900-1999:Letters of the Century. I work at our local library and will request a copy to be held for me. Also, thanks for doing your part to keep the art of letter writing alive. I enjoy your posts, especially Monday Letter Lore. I like the title and the idea as a whole. As a history major, I appreciate you showcasing glimpses of the past. Bob Hope, what a hoot.

chewytulip said...

Dear Lynn,

Anonymous said...