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Pickle Me This

December 6, 2007

Post in books

My love of post is so unabashed, and I’ve still got that tremendous crush on our mailman, even though I am sure it’s unrequited because during my previous incarnation as student/ housewife I used to meet him at our door each morning wearing track pants. But I don’t care much– I get excited at Canada Post vans, I covet pen pals, I subscribe to far too many periodicals, I make out with postboxes in airports, I’ve got an in the post label here on my blog.

On Sunday I sent out my Christmas cards– 43 of them, and at least one to every continent except Africa (where unfortunately I don’t know anybody), and when I say every continent I really mean it. What a treat indeed to post a letter to The South Pole. Doesn’t post make the world so delightfully small and in a way not even the internet could ever manage?

At Crooked House Stephany Aulenback has been celebrating postalness lately, in particular the very best thing since “books in the post” which is, of course, “post in the books.” I’d never made the connection before, between my love of mail and how much I enjoy reading collections of letters (which I’ve only really discovered in the past year actually with Decca and A Memoir of Friendship. ) But there clearly is a link, and Stephany has made me think back far to the postal books I’ve been loving for a long time. The Jolly Postman, of course, but also Beverly Cleary’s Dear Mr. Henshaw which I read over and over again when I was little. When I first moved to England I found a book called Dear Exile in my hostel (and stole it, I think) and loved this story of friends separated by continents. I am very much looking forward to reading A Celibate Season, the epistolary novel by Blanche Howard and Carol Shields. “For Esme– with Love and Squalor”. Stephany mentions the wonderous 84 Charing Cross Road.

It’s not really such a stretch, is it? That those of us who love books and love letters might be the same people in the end?

~She is always delighted by the arrival of the post, though it ought to be routine by now because the postman comes each day at three. But no, she anticipates the tip tap of his shoes, the thunk in through the letterbox and the footsteps’ retreat. A bundle of ephemera waiting on the floor. There is always something, a stack of something.~

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