a. raymond johnson

gadabout | bon vivant | writer

A Letter to M.J. Hyland, Regarding This Is How

Dear MJ,

I have not written a fan letter in a very long time, which I just realized this is what I am writing, a fan letter. I just put down your book This Is How and it recharged my heart in the way novels should, the way writing should, I think of what Frank O’Hara said, the ecstasy of always bursting forth. I stumbled upon your book mostly from luck (wandering the aisles of the library haphazardly looking for something new to catch my eye) with a bit of help from it also being a well-designed book (the cover, the font, the heft, the type). I read the book in two big bursts this week, and I find myself wishing instead of writing to you, I could write to Patrick in prison, which you hopefully will take to be the larger compliment, as that how it is intended.

I look forward to getting another book of yours – after there’s been sufficient time for my heart to sift through the last. I don’t like running my novel-reading too close together, it is a bit like leaving one lover in the morning and starting a new affair at night. Sure, that’s fun once or twice in your life, but now I want to relish my experiences. I’ll instead finish reading Best American Comics 2008 as a palate cleanser.

Apologies for rambling a bit, gratitude for creating a book that moved me and inspired my own work.

Yours truly,

ETA: The author responded! I love these modern times.

Dear Raymond

Yours is easily the best and nicest fan letter I’ve ever received. And your timing is perfect. I’ve been thinking of quitting writing. This is How was a critical success but the sales are abysmal. Nobody is buying it. I love to write, but I write also so that I might be read; that I might entertain and move somebody, to make a good number of people think, and feel, and feel more awake, more alive. If I’ve moved you and charmed you…., perhaps there’s good reason to press on. Maybe I will bother with the 4th novel.

So, thank you. Really, thank you.

All very, very best from me (and Patrick),
M x

Posted in writing by a. raymond johnson on March 16th, 2011 at 2:34 pm.


Facebook comments:

6 Replies

  1. I am intrigued – I’ll be adding it to my Goodreads!

  2. i’m going to recommend it to my book group for next month.

  3. unscrambled Mar 17th 2011

    Your recommendation is worth a library reservation, for sure.

  4. Jessica Mar 17th 2011

    I am lucky to have read this exchange between writer and writer.

  5. this. is. wonderful. thank you for sharing.

  6. kristen Mar 18th 2011

    Putting it on my list to read now!

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