Book Review – Airmail: Taking Women of Letters to the World
May
3rd

This book was provided to me for review by the kind folks at Penguin Australia.

Airmail: Taking Women of Letters to the World, curated by Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy.

No one writes letters anymore. An email, a text, a comment on Facebook, a quick thought limited to one hundred and forty characters on Twitter. Basically it’s a dying art, and it’s a shame because people are so much more honest when they write something down. There’s no delete button, there’s no erasing what you’ve sealed up and posted off: it’s permanent and the sentiment and emotion is lasting.

Airmail: Taking Women of Letters to the World is the fifth collection of letters published in the series where artists, authors, and celebrities share their personal letter with the audience. This collection includes letters from Tavi Gevinson, Gia Carides, Tim Minchin, and Felicity Ward to name a few. The letters are organised in categories like To my first time, To the time it didn’t work out and To a missed opportunity, each category performed around the world in places like Austin, Ubud, Jakarta and Dublin.

I’ll be honest when I say I was trepidatious going in to this book. It’s really not the sort of book I would choose to read myself. But it’s always good to step outside one’s comfort zone and read something that’s totally different to the usual sorts of things I pick up. And in reading this book I wavered between becoming totally caught up in some of the letters and struggling to get through others. Maybe it’s that some of them were a little too political, or that others were a little too coy in their writing.

Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother), who wrote about Damien Rice’s album O, and described that experience that happens to all of us, at least once, where we hear new music at a pivotal moment in our life and become consumed by it, convinced that it’s been written specifically for us, perfectly encapsulating every emotion of falling in and out of love. Another letter, by author Monica McInerney, about the path she could have taken, but didn’t, enthralled me. It’s something most of us don’t think about, what happens if we don’t do something? We focus so much on what we WILL do in life, but often we don’t think about the impact not doing something has on our destiny. If we take a right turn instead of a left one in traffic, who knows what would have happened at the left turn. What if we take one job instead of another one? What impact would the work, the people, the environment have on us? It’s something McInerney writes about so succinctly, but it really made me stop and think.

I could go on about the letters that intrigued and amused me, but we’d be here all day. Airmail is a diverse, eclectic, entertaining collection of letters from a stellar group of creative people from a range of industries who span all parts of the globe. It’s well worth picking up and having a read of, even it’s it’s just to dip in and out of every few days. Everyone will take away something different from any one of these letters, and if you enjoy collective works from artistic types then you’re sure to love this!

Airmail: Taking Women of Letters to the World is available from Penguin Australia for $29.99AUD.

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