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The Letter Left to Me Paperback – January 22, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The nameless narrator of this short, abortive fiction is 15 when his father, a Wall Street employee, dies and his mother hands him a letter kept in a desk drawer for years. This rueful, typewritten note, ostensibly from his dead father, is full of ringing, platitudinous advice urging the youth to make something of his life and not waste his abilities, as dad had done at Harvard. Soon the boy's Brooklyn relatives have distributed 100 handsomely printed copies of the letter to friends and family. When he goes off to college, he finds the dean somehow has a copy of the letter, which he dubs "Lessons in Survival" and disseminates to the freshman class. McElroy ( Women and Men ) has spun a convoluted, rambling interior monologue reflecting the narrator's emotional numbness, his confusion, his social snobbery and his unresolved grief over the loss of his father. But the mysterious, self-perpetuating letter is like a private symbol, its meaning known only to the author and his mixed-up alter ego.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Sometime in the late 1940s, a teenage boy receives a letter from his recently deceased father. Written several years before the man knew that he was ill, and found among his papers after his death, the letter is full of stern, fatherly platitudes. Friends of the family praise the letter extravagantly; copies are printed up and mailed to their friends. A few years later, one of the boy's college professors analyzes the letter in class. Most of the students find it stilted and phony, and the boy must come to his own conclusions. This uncharacteristically short novel is written in McElroy's usual style: details accrue slowlyvery slowlythrough repeated examination of a few key dramatic episodes. Women and Men ( LJ 2/15/87) remains the essential work, but larger fiction collections will want this one as well. Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law School Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf (January 22, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881845361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881845365
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,108,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ashley Allen on May 11, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Book came as described, book wasn't a great read though. It was an assigned reading for a college class
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