Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Mr. You

In her inventive, unconventional memoir, Dear Mr. You, award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker offers glimpses into her life via 34 letters written to and about significant men in her life, showing how masculine presences--fleeting, long-term and imagined--have influenced her, for better or worse.

The letters range widely in subject, form and tone. Most pay homage to family, as in "Dear Grandpa," which tells the story of Parker's grandfather and a creative act of love he undertook to brighten a son's dark days during World War II. In "Dear Daddy," Parker writes longingly of her father, his war experiences and how an injury sustained in battle changed his life--and Parker's.

Other letters are odes to--or denunciations of--lost loves, sexual exploits and long-ago intimacies. Tenderness and sensitivity gravitate to the fore in a letter about Parker's short-lived friendship with a man battling cancer. She writes an affectionate portrait about the two-way street of friendship, and humbly recalls meeting the biological uncle of her adopted, Ethiopian-born daughter. In "Dear Future Man Who Loves My Daughter," Parker admiringly glances back at the protectiveness of her own brothers when she was growing up. The men at the center of each letter often serve as mirrors, reflecting much about Parker and those who populate her world.

Whether writing to NASA, poets, musicians, a goat facing castration, an ash-covered firefighter on 9/11 or doctors, Parker's prose is infused with a perfect balance of sarcasm, humor and poetic language. Her letters shine with candid, self-aware depth--unabashed in revealing the truth of her own nature and experiences. 

Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
Scribner, $25.00 Hardcover, 9781501107832, 240 pp
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (11/24/15), link HERE

This review was also featured (in a longer form) on Shelf Awareness: Book Trade (11/3/15). To read the longer review click HERE