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Dear Mr. You

Dear Mr. You

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Dear Mr. You

evaluări:
3.5/5 (11 evaluări)
Lungime:
207 pages
3 hours
Editor:
Lansat:
Nov 10, 2015
ISBN:
9781501107856
Format:
Carte

Descriere

The bestselling, wonderfully unconventional, “warmly conspiratorial…seriously good” (The New York Times) literary memoir from the award-winning actress that has received fabulous and wide praise. “There is no one else quite like Mary-Louise Parker…Funny, heartbreaking and profound” (Elle).

An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Beginning with the grandfather she never knew, the letters range from a missive to the beloved priest from her childhood to remembrances of former lovers to an homage to a firefighter she encountered to a heartfelt communication with the uncle of the infant daughter she adopted. Readers will be amazed by the depth and style of these letters, which reveal the complexity and power to be found in relationships both loving and fraught.
Editor:
Lansat:
Nov 10, 2015
ISBN:
9781501107856
Format:
Carte

Despre autor

Mary-Louise Parker is a Tony, Emmy, and Golden Globe award-winning actress. Her writing has appeared in Esquire, The Riveter, Bust, and The Bullet. This is her first book.

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Dear Mr. You - Mary -Louise Parker

mother

Dear Mr. You,

Manly creature, who smells good even when you don’t, you wake up too slowly, with fuzzy, vertical hair and a slightly lost look on your face as though you are seven or seventy-five; to you, because you can notice a woman with a healthy chunk of years or pounds on her and let out a wolf whistle under your breath and mean it; because you thought either rug would be fine, really it would; to you who can fix my screen door, my attitude, and open most jars; to you who codifies, slams a puck, builds a decent cabinet or the perfect sandwich; to you who gave a twenty to the kids selling Hershey bars and waited three hours for me at baggage claim in your flannel shirt; you, sir, you took my order, my pulse, my bullshit; to you, boy grown up, the gentleman, soldier, professor, or caveman; to you and to that guy at the concession stand; thank you for lying on the hood of that car and watching stars plummet, thank you for the tour of the elevator cage, the sound booth, the alley; thank you for the kaleidoscope, the get-well tequila, the painting, the truth; thank you for the brown diamonds and blue points; to you, who carried me across the parking lot, to the ER, and up the stairs; to you who shows up every so often only to confuse and torment, and you who stays in orbit to my left and steady, you stood up for me, I won’t forget that; to the one who can’t figure it out and never will, and to the one who lost the remote, the dog, or your way altogether. To you who I’ve tried to understand, so necessary and violent; you who transported, comforted, and devastated, sometimes all at once; I still have what you said was mine, I kept that, along with the memories, despite memories being a word I loathe for both its icky tone and wistful graveyard implications, but there it is and here I am recounting them. Some I may get wrong and others I’d love to expel forever, but thank you for them nonetheless, and this,

this is for you, Cerberus, sweet beast with your many faces,

and you, Father Bob,

to the Deer Dancer because he saw me over there,

to the painter, and the poet,

to NASA, and to that cabdriver, what can I say but that I was wrong and I’m sorry,

to sweet Blue and kind Abe,

to firefighters all, especially that one,

to Uncle, and the newspaper boy and the goats,

to Little Owl, what an honor to watch your first flight,

to Rafiki Yangu, and to my mentor, and my doctor,

to the ones I never met and the ones I often wish I hadn’t.

Most of all to you, Daddy. That’s you in me, the far-off gaze. The poems are you, as are the good deeds and the jars of candy I hide everywhere. You are what makes me indomitable and how I know to keep walking when I feel crippled in every conceivable way. Thank you to the actual heavens and after that, and you others who make up my tremendous et cetera, this is

to you.

Dear Grandpa,

The world is at war again. That’s twice now, in your lifetime.

Your only son has been overseas for eleven months. The last you heard, he and his fellow soldiers were going to make a beachhead landing on the shores of the Philippines. If your boy John was involved you can bet it went off like gangbusters. He is nineteen years old and remarkably good at life.

If there were a way to spy on him at this moment you’d see a young man wrapped inside an army-issue poncho and sleeping in the corner of a rice paddy. Artillery is firing across the road but that sound is lost in the rain, which falls in thick black sheets, and your boy sleeps long enough for that rain to surround and lift him. When he wakes he is floating on his back.

He will hit the double decades in two and a half weeks and you have a plan that’s been brewing.

You go to the only bakery you know, which is two towns over. The woman behind the counter is wiping her eyes on her apron by the time you ask to buy the biggest loaf of rye bread she has. She’s just gotten an earful about your son and refuses to charge you for the bread, also throwing in a few cinnamon buns. You thank her up and down and tell her you enjoy the way her blouse matches her eyes.

You have a bottle of gin for the drive back but you run out of it around the same time you run out of fuel and have to pull over to the side of the road. You hitch a ride back to the house with a nice fellow, a miner like yourself, and tell him about your plan for your son’s birthday. You are open to strangers. Aside from that it’s a darn good plan.

In forty-three years, your granddaughter will be found hitchhiking by the side of the road near San Francisco. She will stand there with two young men who’ll encourage her to hike up her skirt and look as winsome as possible by the off-ramp. They will have constructed a sign out of cardboard to catch the eye of someone nice enough to pull over. The sign will say MARIN, PLEASE, WE’VE READ SARTRE. They’ll get a ride fairly quickly from a fellow who sees only a girl with a sign, but when he stops the two boys will come running out from behind a bush. The boys will stuff themselves in that tiny car and thank the man for his generosity before he can protest.

In an hour or so your granddaughter will enter a coffee shop with one of the boys. They will have empty stomachs and less than two dollars between them. They have a plan though. The girl goes off to a corner table by herself while the boy scans the joint for someone to beat at poker. She will eat breakfast slowly, setting down her book in between bites of croissant with strawberry jam, only ordering a hot chocolate when the boy gives her the signal that he is winning and they will be able to pay for their food. A man will notice her and attempt to sit across from her, but she will give him a blank stare as she points to the boy, who has seen the man approaching. The boy will narrow his eyes and give him the universal signal for SCRAM, and as the man skulks away she will go back to her book, which is, incidentally, The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre. It will start to rain as the group drives across the Golden Gate Bridge. Your granddaughter loves the rain as you do, the grandfather she’ll never meet. By the time she’s born you are dead and your wife has married your brother. Your granddaughter never thought much about the fact that instead of Grandma and Grandpa, it was always Grandma and Uncle George. When she gets older she’ll wish she’d met you, as you are the subject of many stories that are told and retold within the family.

It’s better that you know none of this now though, as you return home and head to the kitchen. You get a handful of crackers from the bread tin to eat with liverwurst before you set about your business. You put the loaf of bread on the counter and look at it for a moment. This makes you smile. The sight of the bread, and your own cleverness; they almost make your eyes wet.

You slice the bread through the middle and dig out the guts down to the crust. Picking out the innards, you ball them up in your hand and stash that fist-bread in the icebox for your wife to come across. She may need them as meatloaf filler if she’s short some beef. You are always thinking of others.

You take the bottle of hard Kentucky whiskey from its bag and admire the label, which is blurry. You nearly fall off the kitchen stool trying to read it. A sip of moonshine from a jar in the icebox feels like a swell idea. You stand with your hand on the refrigerator door and sway, letting the cold out.

The candle is a problem. You have a heck of a time finding one and have to wake your wife, who swears at you. When you say it’s for the boy’s birthday, she walks to the neighbors’ in her housedress to ask for one. You admire her attack on life, as you watch her heading back up the driveway with a candle stub, highly perturbed. You get a kick out of the whole exercise.

The candle drips wax around the bottle top and creates a seal to protect the whiskey. You lay the sacrificial bottle in the crust coffin, for the second time thanking the powers that be for making you so goddamned ingenious. Splashing Worcestershire in the remains of the frosting creates a tinted batch with which to spell Happy Birthday John! The exclamation point looks like a tadpole but that adds mystery. You chuckle as you wrap it up.

•  •  •

When your boy sees a box with his name on it, he tears it open for any sign of home. He’d been digging foxholes to wait out the night when the first load of mail in weeks reached him by way of New Guinea. The sound of his name being called to receive a package is almost gift enough.

He digs through the newspaper and finds your cake, by now pitiful and moldy. It’s bald in patches where the icing has rubbed off, but it’s from you so he knows to look beneath the surface for the joke. He unties the twine around the bread and looks inside, letting go a belly laugh and waving his hand up to the sky. The other soldiers slap him on the back and wish him happy birthday while eyeing the bottle’s throat like the slope of a woman’s neck they could grasp with their muddy frozen hands.

John says a toast to you before passing it around and everyone joins in on the hip-hip hooray! The irony of celebrating is lost on those young men who are swimming in mud and sharing a tin of sardines for dinner. They raise up their rifles and fists to the skies, believing they won’t have their last drink in the middle of this paddy. There will be real parties waiting back home and a chance for a fella to put on a clean shirt and tie, hear the ice clink in a decent glass of gin. The day when this is the story told while sitting in a real chair.

For now they let out their best cheer. It doesn’t rouse you from where you lie facedown on the rug in West Virginia, talking to a son lost too deep in the jungle to hear you. You wonder if they have the same locusts in that part of the world where your boy is now. Locusts. You are fond of the sound but they ruin discovery. The way they rise and fall in the same exact patterns every night tells you what time it is before you get a chance to peek out a window for yourself, see where the moon ended up tacked to the sky.

Dear Daddy,

I don’t know his name or rank. He must be dead now.

It was the Philippines, 1944. Your battalion was trying to divide the Japanese so they couldn’t push the Americans down to the beaches. Wipe them out by the ocean, where their bodies could feed the big fish. Their bones would wash up with photos of their girls from back home floating past. The boots would be gone. During combat, soldiers take boots off the casualties, you told me, since in war all you do is walk.

This soldier saw you struggling. You couldn’t recall his name, which means the gunshot in your leg was brutal, because you remembered everything. He lost his place in line to find a branch and tied the stick to your leg to get you going again, using your rifle for a cane. You fell back in, began to muscle your way through the thicket. When the pain started to set your guts on fire you slowed but didn’t quit. In the jungle, night is so black you can’t see your hand in front of your face but you could hear the screams of men being bayoneted fifty meters away. The guys at the back of the line were the ones getting picked off first, their bloodlines ending in the brush in the middle of an island they’d never heard of a week ago. Last was not the place to be.

The commander ordered a brief stop so the soldiers could rest. Not sleep, but have water or stare impassively at their wounds and one another. Smoke. As the hundreds of soldiers sat, you kept walking until your back of the line became the middle. Dragging your leg, you were the only one walking until you’d blown all the way to the front with a bullet in your thigh. When the commander ordered everyone up they began to pass you again, pushing you to the rear until another stop was called, but you limped through that break too. You dragged yourself by soldiers sitting on their helmets chewing tobacco, sharing a pack of Life Savers. Some had their heads in their hands while standing otherwise at attention. They were arrested in space with nowhere to go, looking like the statues that would one day represent them in public spaces, with plaques describing this battle and their bravery.

This went on an entire day longer, with you managing to hold the middle by not accepting the back. Your hand was melded to your rifle and aching like the dickens but you heaved onward, kept not taking that break. At some point when you still hadn’t died, trees cleared and there was legitimate light. You were medevaced out, only to be back in combat a month later with your first Purple Heart, which you said you never understood. You’d ask, Why do they give you a medal for being dumb enough to get shot?

Months later, you were shivering under a blanket in Manila, thinking about getting home in time to call that girl about a date for New Year’s. You hadn’t stopped thinking about her since that day at the bank. She’d floated over with a note from some other gal. Her eyes were so brown. She had skin that looked like a bowl of fruit with cream painted on top, and seemed as though she might stick by a man, but quietly, with a little orchestra of sighs and run-on sentences. You asked someone what her story was. Apparently she was going to Averett College in the fall, and you remembered that while you were sitting by that campfire in the middle of war a year later. You wrote her a letter by the light of that fire, on the top of the page scrawling the words FROM SOMEWHERE IN THE PHILIPPINES.

Thirty years later, my teen European-tour-to-meet-boys fell through when my friend’s parents said no. I was devastated and you couldn’t bear it. You sold or mortgaged something and booked a family Euro-tour—not my dream, but you were so happy to give me this trip you couldn’t afford that I acted excited, hoping there would be a boy on a train who would not know English and kiss me, but there were no cute boys. There was only a man on a pier in Monte Carlo who thought I was a prostitute, but the trip had moments. You and I woke early in Amsterdam to go to the diamond factory to get Mom a ring. Once there, you pushed me (Pick one for you and your sister, please, I want you to), so I picked the smallest, praying it was also the cheapest, but you insisted on a bigger one. We took a boat back to the hotel and I remember your face looking out over the water. I could see all the weight on you. You were dreaming and planning, brimming with if-onlys.

•  •  •

Going up Sixth Avenue in a taxi, your grandson said, Mommy, aren’t there so many amazing things in the world? Aren’t we so lucky to be alive? That’s you in him, Daddy. He’s so like you, full of extremes and heavy on the dream

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  • (3/5)
    Chose this as my first Book of the Month Club pick. Parker can write, though there is plenty here that is inessential. But when she finds a rich vein to mine, she delivers something worthwhile and glorious. The letter to her adopted daughter's uncle is wonderful and the final long letter where she details her father's passing was tremendous.
  • (3/5)
    I'm so glad I was able to listen to the book on audio because it gave it more life than reading from a book. The book is sort of like a collection of very short stories. I would recommend listening on audio first. This book is not for everyone so if you like essay style writing than this book is for you.
  • (4/5)
    Letters/memories/personality-molding interactions dedicated to various men who've crossed her path. Bet the lady version would be just as engaging and affecting."It's been a cycle of having your arms tied only to liberate yourself again. This grew you an enormous wingspan to rise above the bitterness anyone would expect you to have. When your hands are tied now, it's not a surprise or an obstacle. Who needs more than a brain, and decency, you think. Wings."---"You are impossibly tall. Your tall intoxicates me. Your tall is nearly ridiculous. When I come back down from going on half-toe to kiss you, I yawn from the altitude adjustment. When you walk down a hall your head grazes the ceiling and you do a sweeping thing that isn't fey. It's as though you left your cape and crown at home to be kind. You left your scepter in a cab because you are absentminded yes, but really deep down you don't like to make others feel lesser.Others are lesser.You wave your hand through the air to dismiss something that displeases you and it's tantamount to another man firing a machine gun.You do not need a machine gun."
  • (2/5)
    I put this book on my short stories shelf, because that's the only way I can make sense of it -- to see each letter as a short story. Parker seems to be writing actual letters to people -- the kind where you don't have to fill in details because the reader already knows them. Sometimes this worked and felt like a cool, innovative short story, and other times I was completely lost and/or disinterested. If this story angle was fulfilled a bit more, it could have really worked.
    I've liked her as an actress since Fried Green Tomatoes, and always thought she has a witty, dry sense of humour. That must be my imagination based on her The West Wing character, because that humour is completely absent from the book. Give it a pass unless you, as a fan, REALLY love her work and need to consume it all.
  • (4/5)
    An absolutely delightful read! In this autobiography, the delightfully intelligent and quirky traits which make Ms. Parker so enchanting on screen come shining through. In a series of letters to men in her life the author manages to convey the intensely wonderful and intensely distasteful roles that men play. I laughed, I cringed, and I cried.
  • (1/5)
    Maybe the second half of the letters were better than the first but I gave up half way through...something I rarely do. I just could not connect with any of what I read nor did I enjoy the fragmented form.
  • (4/5)
    Can I give 4 1/2 stars? Look, my crush on Ms. Parker has been decades long and as far as I know, unrequited (although she could just be a really good stalker, just waiting and waiting for the right moment...). So my review on this book does not come without some ingrained bias...but really I would say that other than a couple of the letters, this book is a winner; you can almost smell and taste her writing these letters on a cold frosty morning; on the beach; on a dark rainy day...her language is electric and insightful; you can feel the anger, the love and the loss as well as all of the wonder. A real treat no matter what the calorie count.
  • (4/5)
    I've always appreciated Mary Louise Parker's acting ability. Right now, I'm thinking of her performance in the HBO version of 'Angels in America' with admiration. Obviously, however, her gifts there in no way impact her ability as a writer. In fact, I was almost influenced in the opposite direction. I didn't want her writing to change the way I thought of her as an actor. Then the book kept turning up on 2015 Best of lists so I changed my mind and read it. And enjoyed it. It is composed of letters to men she's encountered through her life. Some of them are close - her father, her mentor and some more distant - a taxi driver, an oyster fisherman. Through these letters she writes a kind of memoir. She shines as a person of compassion and insight. I found a lot of what she had to say universal and thought provoking. She is a bit odd, but that added to the experience for me.
  • (5/5)
    A remarkable collection of 'letters' to various men in Parker's life. They are thoughtful, and compassionate odes to life. Many of them are beautiful and poetic. All of them contain some insight into what makes life worth living. She is honest about both her failings and her moments of grace.
  • (5/5)
    Mary-Louise Parker came to Iowa City to promote this book and I didn't even consider going to see her. I assumed this was a "celebrity book" and though I've enjoyed some "celebrity books" (most recently Mindy Kaling's Why Not Me) I didn't have particularly high expectations for Dear Mr. You. I was not prepared by how deeply, deeply affecting it would be.It is series of letters written to various men in her life (and one woman) both real and imagined. Some are funny. Some are heartbreaking. All are, as I said, deeply affecting. As soon as I finished it I sent a letter to a good friend and asked her, "Would you please do me a huge personal favor? Would you read this book?" I'd never recommended a book to her before but there is a certain audience for this book, people who like slow, thoughtful, pristine prose. People who can appreciate vulnerability and sincerity. I could have easily devoured this book in a single setting but I'm glad I didn't. I read a letter or two every day and I believe that's how this book was meant to be read. Most letters gave me pause and left me thinking all day about the people in them and the people in my own life. In short: This is the real deal. Y'all should read it.
  • (4/5)
    Parker’s book is a series of beautiful letters written to men in her life, from childhood through the present. Each letter is a glimpse into the complexity of life and memory suffused with gratitude.
  • (5/5)
    The thing about books written by celebrities, especially non-fiction stories about their lives, is you have a predisposed idea of who they are as people. This idea can culminate through various ways such as the characters they play in movies/shows or the various stories that gossip magazines publish about them. And while I always felt that Mary Louise-Parker was a fascinating person, Dear Mr. You only made this all the more apparent.“I wrote about us while you were away in a notebook that eventually saw the end of us, but the last I wrote about that time was in ink; it was a hurried, angry scrawl reading: Time, that cold bastard, with its nearlys and untils. I think, what a shame. Time should weep for having spent me without you.”It has to be said, but I did not expect Mary Louise-Parker to be as remarkable a writer as she clearly is. I recently stumbled upon an article where she talks about her top ten favorite books and over half of them were poetry collections, so it’s clear where her poetic quality comes from. I read the majority of this book out loud to myself, simply because I wanted to slow down my normally fast-paced reading to better appreciate this small but stunning story. Her eloquence is something to truly aspire to.As the title suggests, this is a collection of letters to the men that have in some way shape or form had an impact on her life. There was the occasional letter that was a miss for me, like the obscure one she wrote to a goat named Gem, but the majority of her letters moved me to unforeseen levels of emotion. Her letters run the gamut of emotions. The letter to Oyster Picker, recounting her fathers final moments on this Earth brought me to tears. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but I sobbed quietly, reading her profound words and then going back to re-read certain passages even though it was well past my bedtime. But there were also laughs, my favorite being the letter to her Former Boyfriend where she describes him eating all the guacamole off her plate and seething with rage she calmly picked up a fork and stabbed him through the hand. I’m not doing it justice but it truly was hilarious; I’m still chuckling in remembrance as I write this.Parker has led a most fascinating life, full of delightful people, and it was a real treat being granted this glimpse into her life. At the end of this collection she recollects how her father made her promise him she would always keep writing and I do hope that promise is fulfilled. It would be fantastic to see her recount her life again in letters, with a focus on the women instead. Bottom line, I do hope this isn’t the last we haven’t seen of Parker in the literary world.“I love that sensation, when you think, this is too good, I’ll catch up with everyone else later. You just have to take in the truth of that expanse a few more seconds before it changes and becomes something else entirely, or before you do.”
  • (4/5)
    It's like reading a book of poetry. MLP is extremely eloquent. While most of the stories did not capture my attention, the ones that did were worth savoring.
  • (5/5)
    This memoir is written in letters to men who have played varying roles in her life - from the grandfather she never knew to a beloved priest, from boyfriends who turned out to be mistakes to an adult male friend who served as a lifeline. The letters are filled with sharp observations and together they show the arc of a life. Readers learn little about the observable events of Parker's life. Instead, this memoir is rich with emotions, showing us her inner life. One of my favorite letters is the last in the collection, Dear Oyster Picker. Although written to an anonymous oyster picker who supplied her father's last requested meal, this letter is about saying goodbye to someone by reflecting honestly on the complexities of a relationship.
  • (2/5)
    Dear Mr. You, Mary-Louise Parker, author; read by authorThe book is written and read well by the author, a well known, award winning actress, but I am not sure what purpose she wished to accomplish by writing it, except perhaps to clear up her own conscience as she reviewed her life and perhaps to right some wrongs she committed along her path to stardom. I did not find the memoir compelling, and I am not sure that there were enough reviews yet written to justify the glorious praise being given to it. It consists of a short series of letters written to people involved in her life, people with whom she interacted, with whom she had relationships, people whom she abused, people whom she loved dearly, people who influenced her, and pets that she adored. Also, keep it in mind that she is still a young woman, hopefully with many more years to live. Born in 1964, she is only just entering her 50’s, so the memoir is by that very nature, brief.In the letters she wrote to these people, even one to the unknown man who might become the husband of her now middle school aged daughter, she offers her advice and apologies, and in some cases, condemnations as she explains her past. She writes about her children, her parents, her siblings, friends, teachers, lovers, animals, taxi drivers, designers, fellow actors, and others, but especially praises the oyster harvester who managed, against all odds, to bring her father his last meal before he succumbed to a grave illness. She invites us to be voyeurs, looking into the window of her life as she explores it.The author loved her father deeply, and the final pages of the book were the most moving expression of her emotion and the most poignant for me. Prior to that I simply felt she was reviewing and critiquing her sexual exploits and partners and was attempting to prove that she had mastered the use of crude, descriptive language. I found some of the letters to be more interesting and revealing than others, like those describing her childbirth experience, her near death experience, and those involving her father. Others were confusing, without a timeline or purposeful direction.The author’s parents were married for more than 6 decades; Mary-Louise Parker never married. She is the mother of two children. One, a young boy born in 2004, and the other, a child she adopted in 2007, from Ethiopia. The memoir seemed to be helping her to work through the events, tragedies and joys of her life, but it is a picture of someone who spent a lot of time being unhappy and angry, defying the rules and generally often behaving irresponsibly, until she finally “came of age”. Although her father was excessively ethical, she seemed to be exactly the opposite, possibly in rebellion. His overzealous adherence to rules created chaos in his life since he could not bend rules under any circumstance; she, on the other hand, took pleasure in doing just that.I did not bond with this book. Often I zoned out and forgot what I was listening to because the author made no connection with me. Growing up, while the author seemed sometimes reckless, my coming of age was the polar opposite; I did not have the luxury of being irresponsible, and so I followed the letter of the law. Still, the memoir is written with a light sense of humor and subtle wit as she describes her reactions to certain events in her life and her feelings about certain people, so if it is your cup of tea to read a book that will not tax your brain, and if you like to read about the rich and famous, have at it!