Category Archives: Books

The Art of Fiction: Every Story Begins With an Ending

alex atkins bookshelf literatureKatherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) was an American journalist and writer, best known for her insightful short stories. She was born as Callie Russel Porter but changed her name to Katherine Anne Porter to honor her grandmother who raised her after her mother passed away. Porter has an interesting literary lineage: she is related to Daniel Boone the American frontiersman, and famous short-story writer O. Henry (the pseudonym of William Sydney Porter). Perhaps there really is a gene for great short-story writing…

Porter published several collections of short stories: Flowering Judas; Pale Horse, Pale Rider; and The Leaning Tower and Other Stories. Her complete collection of short stories published in 1964 won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1966) and she was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. In an interview with Barbara Thompson for the Paris Review in the spring of 1963, Porter discussed the importance of the ending of the story. In fact, she believed that every story begins with an ending and that until the end is known, there is no story. She elaborates: “That is where the artist begins to work: with the consequences of acts, not the acts themselves. Or the events. The event is important only as it affects your life and the lives of those around you. The reverberations, you might say, the overtones: that is where the artist works. In that sense it has sometimes taken me ten years to understand even a little of some important event that had happened to me. Oh, I could have given a perfectly factual account of what had happened, but I didn’t know what it meant until I knew the consequences. If I didn’t know the ending of a story, I wouldn’t begin. I always write my last lines, my last paragraph, my last page first, and then I go back and work towards it. I know where I’ m going. I know what my goal is. And how I get there is God’s grace.”

Thompson then comments that that is a very classical view of the work of art, ie, that a story must end in resolution. Porter responds: “Any true work of art has got to give you the feeling of reconciliation—what the Greeks would call catharsis, the purification of your mind and imagination—through an ending that is endurable because it is right and true. Oh, not in any pawky individual idea of morality or some parochial idea of right and wrong. Sometimes the end is very tragic, because it needs to be. One of the most perfect and marvelous endings in literature — it raises my hair now — is the little boy at the end of Wuthering Heights, crying that he’s afraid to go across the moor because there’s a man and woman walking there.”

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Best Writing Advice From Famous Writers
The Best Advice for Writers
Best Books for Writers
William Faulkner on the Writer’s Duty
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Why Writers Write

For further reading: The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter by Kathering Anne Porter
Katherine Anne Porter Conversations by Katherine Anne Porter
Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley


Words Invented by Book Lovers 2

alex atkins bookshelf wordsBook Depository, a London-based online bookseller founded by a former Amazon employee (and now owned by Amazon), recently borrowed a page from Powell’s Books, based in Portland Oregon. (While Book Depository offers more than 18 million books, Powell’s is the real deal — it is the world’s largest brick-and-mortar independent bookstore with an inventory of more than a million new and used books. It is truly the book lover’s Mecca.) Book Depository was inspired by “Readerly Terms” featured on Powell’s Books’ blog. Readerly terms are witty made-up words (neologisms, to be precise) and phrases related to reading that are submitted by book lovers. Correspondingly, Book Depository created a series of bookmarks featuring neologisms that only a book lover would truly appreciate. Here are the words invented by the book lovers who work at Book Depository.

readlaxing: An enjoyable, relaxing moment when you sit down to read your book.

bookphoria: The feeling of great excitement when you receive a book you ordered.

motionblurb: Reading a book while on the move.

plotplash: That warm, cozy feeling when you get lost in a book on a dull rainy day.

novelicious: When you take that first sip of your chosen beverage and begin the journey of a new book.

What other words should they add to this series?

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Words Invented by Famous Authors
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For further reading: http://www.bookdepository.com/bookmarks


The Most Famous Christmas Villains

alex atkins bookshelf moviesOn Saturday, December 22, a day after the U.S. government entered a partial shutdown, the New York Daily News featured a cover photo of President Trump rendered as the mean old Grinch, from Dr. Seuss’ well-known holiday story How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The copy on the newspaper reads: “How the Trump Stole Christmas! Shuts down government over wall to put coal in stockings of 800,000 workers. It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. But we think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.” Touché!

It’s ironic that when we think of Christmas, imbued with goodness and generosity, that we also think of its polar opposites: evil and greediness. Indeed, literature, television, and film have created some of those most enduring and evil Christmas villains that have become so embedded in our culture that they have entered the English lexicon. Calling someone a Scrooge, a Grinch, or a Mr. Potter instantly evokes the most miserable, misanthropic, and miserly curmudgeons. Bah, humbug!

Without further ado, here are some of the most famous villains of Christmas, in chronological order (character, appearance in film or book, followed by evil deed):

Ebenezer Scrooge: appears in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843); the quintessential Christmas villain. In Dickens’ memorable prose: “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” Scrooge is a truly wretched curmudgeon; listen to his bitter response to his nephew’s cheerful holiday greeting: “If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

Henry F. Potter (known as Old Man Potter): appears in It’s A Wonderful Life (1946); the Scrooge of Bedford Falls who is hellbent on either destroying or gaining control of George Bailey’s building and loan company. Potter has a heart made of ice — check out his response to Bailey’s plea for help: “Look at you… you used to be so cocky. You were going to go out and conquer the world. You once called me “a warped, frustrated old man!” What are you but a warped, frustrated young man? A miserable little clerk… crawling in here on your hands and knees and begging for help. No security, no stocks, no bonds; nothing but a miserable little five-hundred dollar equity and a live insurance policy. Eh he he he! You’re worth more dead than alive!Why don’t you go to the riff-raff you love so much and ask them to let you have eight-thousand? You know why? Well, because they’d run you out of town on a rail! But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do for you, George. Since the state examiner is still here, as a stockholder of the Building and Loan, I’m going to swear out a warrant for your arrest!”

The Grinch: appears in Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957); steals the decorations and gifts of all the adorable Whos of Whoville

Bumble: appears in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964); the abominable snowman who terrifies all those who venture through the icy north pole

Bürgermeister Meisterburger: appears in Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970); bans toys for tripping on a toy duck

Heat and Snow Miser: appears in The Year Without Santa Claus (1974); use their weather powers for evil

Scut Farkas: appears in A Christmas Story (1983); a bully who regularly ambushes Ralphie and his friends

Frank Shirley: appears in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989); cancels employee bonuses and instead gives them a membership in the jelly-of-the-month club

Marv and Henry: appear in Home Alone (1990); two career burglars that scare and attempt to rob a young boy who is left alone in his home

SHARE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Art of Giving Good Gifts
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National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Trivia
The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
Twas the Night Before Christmas
A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life
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The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
The Story Behind Scrooge
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

 

 


The World Needs Another Dickens to Stir Our Consciences

alex atkins bookshelf christmasEvery holiday season, the Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, located in New York, displays the original handwritten manuscript of Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol. The novella, written in just under six weeks, was published on December 19, 1843 by Chapman and Hall. The initial run of the first edition of 6,000 copies sold out faster than he anticipated. It sold for five shillings (approximately $29 in today’s dollars). By Christmas Eve all of the first editions had been sold; moreover, the story quickly received enthusiastic praise and acclaim. Naturally, Dickens wanted to preserve the original 68-page manuscript, so he had it bound in red morocco leather and gave it to Thomas Mitton, a close friend and creditor (Mitton had lent Dickens 270 pounds over the previous six months). On the title page, Dickens wrote: “My own, and only, MS of the Book/ Charles Dickens.” Soon after Dickens died, Mitton sold the manuscript for 50 pounds. Over the next few decades, the precious manuscript passed through several British book collectors before it was sold to Pierpont Morgan in the 1890s. By then the value had increased dramatically; Morgan paid an estimated 1,200 pounds (about $42,000 in today’s dollars) to a London bookseller. A century later, the value of the manuscript skyrocketed beyond anything Dickens could have ever imagined. In 2017, Dickens’ original manuscript for A Christmas Carol was appraised at $5 million — more than twice what the famous author earned over his writing career (in today’s dollars).

John Mortimer, the former senior vice president of The New York Times, was an admirer of Dickens’ work, particularly A Christmas Carol. On December 24, 1993, he wrote a brilliant op-ed titled “Poorhouses, Pamphlets, and Marley’s Ghost.” Sadly, Mortimer perished in an airplane accident in five years later, on September 4, 1998. On this Christmas day, Bookshelf presents excerpts from that illuminating essay and Mortimer’s eloquent and passionate call for another Dickens “to stir our consciences and succeed where politicians and preachers and pamphleteers have so conspicuously failed”:

One dark afternoon in January, I sat at a round table in the library on East 36th Street in New York City from which J. Pierpont Morgan once oversaw his collection. A square of velvet was laid reverently before me. Then a leatherbound volume was set on the velvet and opened. The first page of handwriting was crossed out, and crossed out again, the obliterations achieved by a sort of undulating scrawl, patterned like the waves on the sea.

The manuscript was written-over in a way seemingly calculated to give nightmares to the printer whose task it was to set it. The first two sentences emerged from the confusion: “Marley was dead to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.” What I was looking at was once the blank piece of paper on which Charles Dickens struggled and had second thoughts and third thoughts when he set out to write A Christmas Carol

Those unfamiliar with Dickens’s way of working would naturally assume that his imagination and his gift for prose, which could rise above grammar and produce laughter, tears or terror at will, would emerge in a stream of words that called for little alteration.

In fact, Dickens agonized over his plots, suffered with his characters and knew black despair when ideas failed to come on his endless walks. During the composition of “A Christmas Carol,” he wept and laughed and one day walked 15 or 20 miles “about the black streets of London . . . when all the good folks had gone to bed.” Years later, when writing “Little Dorrit,” he described his usual agonies of creation: “I am in a hideous state of mind in which I walk down the stairs every five minutes, look out of the window once in two. . . . I am steeped in my story, and rise and fall by turns into enthusiasm and depression.”

These sudden doubts and elations, these sudden changes of mind, are reflected in the alterations and obliterations in his manuscripts. They show what he called “The story-weaver at his loom,” and he was able to write to one of his sons, “Look at such of my manuscripts as are in the library at [ Gads Hill, his country home ] and think of the patient hours devoted year after year to single lines.”

It’s sad to think that when all writers are equipped with word processors, future generations will never be able to discover the waves of pain, hesitation and changes of mind that go into every page of a great work of fiction.

As he set out to write A Christmas Carol, Dickens had been an enormously successful novelist since the publication of The Pickwick Papers seven years earlier. However, his most recent effort, Martin Chuzzlewit, which was being serialized, had not been quite as triumphant and he had exhausted himself writing it…

He was well off, yet he was perceptive and humane enough to denounce what so many of his contemporaries were blind to: England’s abandoned underclass, left to rot in filthy city slums and rural hovels, giving birth to children who had no education, no comfort or security and whose brightest hope lay in a life of crime.

Although Dickens wrote a hilarious analysis of ways of pleading for money in Our Mutual Friend, he responded generously to begging letters. He also took practical and energetic steps to deal with the problem of outcast children. In the year he wrote A Christmas Carol, the Second Report of the Children’s Employment Commission had been issued. It had inspired Elizabeth Barrett to write her poem “The Cry of Children”:

And well may the children weep before you
They are weary ‘ere they run;
They have never seen the sunshine or the glory
Which is brighter than the sun
They know the grief of man without his wisdom
They sink in man’s despair without its calm…

In the autumn of 1843, Dickens had visited Samuel Starey’s Field Lane Ragged School, which educated slum children. In letters now in the Morgan Library, he recommended it to a wealthy philanthropist, Burdett Coutts. In October 1843, he presided over at the first annual meeting of the Manchester Athenaeum, founded to bring culture and education to the “laboring classes.”

“Thousands of immortal creatures,” he told his audience, “are condemned . . . to tread, not what our great poet calls the ‘primrose path to the everlasting bonfire’ but over jagged flints and stones laid down by brutal ignorance.”

He contemplated writing a pamphlet to be called “An Appeal to the People of England on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.” Luckily, he changed his mind and channeled his anger into a Christmas story that would last forever. So Ebenezer Scrooge was forced to turn his reluctant eyes on the phantoms of Ignorance and Want, mankind’s children, “yellow, meagre, raged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate too in their humility.”

So Dickens faced a nation, calling itself Christian with a faith that told them the poor were blessed and that little children should come unto God. And he did so in a way that would be far more effective than any pamphlet.

Dickens didn’t always get good reviews, and in later years he avoided reading them in case they should destroy his confidence and cause him unnecessary pain. However, A Christmas Carol was greeted with universal acclaim. Thackeray, writing in Frasers Magazine, called it a “national benefit.” The Sunday Times called it “sublime,” and an American factory owner gave his workers an extra day’s holiday when he had finished reading it. Even Thomas Carlyle ordered a large turkey and was, his wife reported, “seized with a perfect convulsion of hospitality and arranged two dinner parties.” Lord Jeffrey, founder of the Edinborough Review and a stern critic, wrote Dickens that the book “has done more good than a year’s work by all the pulpits and confessionals.”…

Sitting in the peace of the Morgan Library, turning those altered and rewritten pages, marveling at the work needed to make the author’s voice sound as though it were entirely improvised, I wondered how far we have really come in the century and a half since that endlessly active pen scratched its Christmas message.

All over the world poverty and ignorance are tolerated. Those great Western democracies, the United States and Britain, accept the existence of an abandoned underclass, unemployed, unwanted, uneducated, and ignored. In Russia, poor children live in garbage dumps. In Africa they starve. What we need is another Dickens, a novelist to stir our consciences and succeed where politicians and preachers and pamphleteers have so conspicuously failed.

And as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one! Merry Christmas to the faithful readers of Bookshelf; warmest wishes for a happy Holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year

SHARE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’ A Christmas Carol
Best Quotes from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Twas the Night Before Christmas
A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life
Best Quotes from A Christmas Story
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
The Story Behind Scrooge
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

For further reading: http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/03/28/specials/mortimer-poorhouses.html
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-financial-stress-the-secret-to-success-a-christmas-carol-suggests-it-is-2017-12-07
https://www.themorgan.org


The Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index: 2018

alex atkins bookshelf booksBack in 1984, the PNC Bank (a bank based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania) developed the Christmas Price Index that totals the cost of all the gifts mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as a flippant economic indicator. In 1984, the Christmas Price Index was $12,623.10; more than three decades later, in 2018, it has reached $39,094.93.

Despite their symbolism, the twelve gifts of Christmas are not only extremely random, they are more of a nuisance than carefully-selected gifts that you would actually cherish. As if the holidays are not stressful enough, imagine all those animals running and flying about helter-skelter, defecating all over your clean carpets — not to mention the nonstop, grating sound of drummers drumming and pipers piping pushing you toward the brink of a mental breakdown. Truly, no book lover would be happy with these gifts. Bah humbug! Therefore, Bookshelf introduced the Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index in 2014 that would be far more interesting to appreciated by bibliophiles. The Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index replaces all those unwanted mess-making animals and clamorous performers with first editions of cherished classic Christmas books. The cost of current first editions are determined by the latest data available from Abe Books, the leading online antiquarian bookseller.

For 2018, the Atkins Bookshelf Christmas Price Index is $78,924 (shipping and tax are not included), a decrease of about 18% of the price index of 2017 ($95,683) — something that would be sure to deeply dismay that old curmudgeon Scrooge. The biggest hit to your wallet remains — by a very large margin — Charles Dickens’ very coveted and valuable first edition of one of the most well-known literary classics — A Christmas Carol ($35,000, a decrease of $5,000 from last year). The second most expensive Christmas book, coming in at $12,000, is Clement C. Moore’s classic poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (more commonly known at “The Night Before Christmas”) that has largely influenced how Santa Claus is depicted. The poem was included in a collection of Moore’s poems in 1844, a year after the publication of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. The biggest change in value was Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas that shrunk like the Grinch’s heart from $10,415 in 2017 to a mere $4,500 this year — a decrease of 57% — a bit of a let down for the festive folks in Whoville. Below are the individual costs of the books that make up the Atkins Bookshelf Christmas Price Index.

A Christmas Carol (1843) by Charles Dickens: $35,000
A Visit from St. Nicholas (included in Poems, 1844) by Clement C. Moore: $12,000
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957) by Dr. Seuss: $4,500
A Christmas Memory (1966) by Truman Capote: $1,875
The Polar Express (1985) by Chris Van Allsburg: $2,500
The Nutcracker (1984 edition) by E. T. A. Hoffman: $1,250
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) by Valentine Davies: $875
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902) by L. Frank Baum: $11,385
The Greatest Gift (1944) by Philip Van Doren Stern: $8,800
Christmas at Thompson Hall (included in Novellas, 1883) by Anthony Trollope: $150
Old Christmas from the Sketchbook of Washington Irving (1886) by Washington Irving: $125
The Gift of the Magi (included in The Four Million, 1905) by O. Henry: $14

Total $78,924

SHARE THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Origin of the Name Scrooge
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
What is a First Edition of A Christmas Carol Worth?
The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

Words invented by Dickens
Why Read Dickens?
Atkins Bookshelf Literary Christmas Price Index: 2017

For further reading: https://www.pnc.com/en/about-pnc/topics/pnc-christmas-price-index.html


Gifts for Book Lovers in the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book 2018

alex atkins bookshelf booksNothing screams holiday conspicuous consumption like the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book — filled with luxury items you can only dream about. Neiman Marcus first published its Christmas Book in 1926 for its best customers. This 16-page catalog featured an assortment of pricey and unique holiday gifts for those with discerning tastes and very deep pockets. Over the years, the size of the catalog has grown exponentially — as well as the price of the most over-the-top and one-of-a-kind holiday gifts featured in between its seductive covers. This year, the Neiman Marcus 2018 Christmas Book (92nd edition, if you’re counting) is 275 pages long and features more than 823 holiday gifts. You have to browse through a lot of merchandise to get to the really good stuff: The 2018 Fantasy Gift Section that begins on page 112; the copy reads: “Get ready to be wowed by the world’s most extraordinary and exclusive gifts.” The fantasy gift section includes a 74-foot Neiman Marcus Edition Serenity Solar Yacht ($7.1 million), a wonder and wellness voyage to India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives ($630,000), Tennis Majors Tours with Sloane Stephens ($555,000), an Ultimate Vice & Virtue Clubhouse ($250,000) — you get the idea. It’s as if the lyrics of Eartha Kitt’s holiday hit, Santa Baby, became a reality (Santa baby, I want a yacht and really that’s not a lot / Been an angel all year / Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight”) To be fair, the catalog does feature dozens of gifts under $250, since it correctly assumes that not every customer is a multi-millionaire of billionaire.

What makes this year’s catalog notable is that includes several unique — and, naturally, very expensive, gifts for the book lover in your life. And as every bibliophile knows, the hunt for the treasure is half the fun. Buried in the middle of the catalog, on page 42, you will find the listing for this amazing book, published by the legendary German publisher Taschen, that is literally [foregive me] the size of a coffee table (it measures 19.7 x 27.6 inches): “Photographer Thomas Laird traveled to the corners of Tibet for more than a decade to capture the land’s most spectacular Buddhist murals. The result: a monument to Tibet like no other. Each limited-edition large-format tome is numbered and signed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama himself.” The book, Murals of Tibet, comes with its own custom book stand (designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect and humanitarian pioneer Shigeru Ban) to display this 50-pound book. Also included is a smaller illustrated scholarly companion book. The cost for this magnum opus? A cool $12,000. A pair of assistants to carry the book, place it onto the bookstand, and turn the massive pages is not included.

If the purchase of that magnificent book will break the bank, no worries — just turn to page 54. There you will find this listing for three very affordable (and remember that term is relative; remember, this is a Neiman Marcus catalog) books that can be purchased individually: “A trio that begs to be slipped under the tree, this impossibly chic collection of coffee-table books caters to the watch aficionado, the art lover, and the Ferrari buff, respectively. Enclosed in an aluminum display case designed by Marc Newson, the latter features hundreds of photos from Ferrari archives and private collectors.” The Impossible Collection of Rolex is priced at $845; The Impossible Collection of Art is $845; and Ferrari is a cool $6,000.

So if you have recently won the lotto, you can purchase the luxury yacht and all four books so that you will have some reading material for yourself and 11 guests, as you cruise the high seas in style. Otherwise, you will have to hope that you’ve been an angel all year, and Santa Baby will deliver the goods.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Best Books About Books for Book Lovers: 2018
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Best Gifts for Book Lovers
Best Books for Movie Lovers

For further reading: www.neimanmarcus.com/c/nm-2018-christmas-book-cat67190754


The Last Message You Receive from Someone Close To You

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsThe brilliant German writer and poet, Goethe, once observed “The world is so empty if one thinks only of mountains, rivers and cities; but to know someone who thinks and feels with us, and who, though distant, is close to us in spirit, this makes the earth for us an inhabited garden.” As the parable in Genesis reveals, we are not meant to travel through the garden alone. One of the great marvels of life is when someone joins us at just the right time — to be able to share the joys of life or help carry a burden or simply be a shoulder to lean on. Whether it is the result of some divine intervention, fate, or coincidence — its impact can be profound and long-lasting. But if life teaches you anything it is this: just as quickly as someone walks into your life, they can leave (to paraphrase the famous Beatles song, “you say ‘Hello’; they say ‘Goodbye’) — and for a variety of reasons: illness, death, suicide, a breakup (friendship or relationship, a profound disagreement, an explosive fight, and so forth. It was this realization that served as an epiphany for Emily Trunko right before she turned 16. She sent out a call for submissions on Tumblr and published them on the blog, “The Last Message Received,” as well as a book of the same title.

Her efforts had a huge impact on her life as well as her readers. In the introduction to her book, Trunko writes: “[The Last Message] has helped bring closure to people who have had to deal with the sudden death of someone close to them, and it has shown suicidal people the shattering impact they actions would have on the the people they would leave behind. It has taught so many people to be more careful with the messages they send, and to remind others how much they care about other people in their lives while they still have the chance to tell them how they feel… I think this Tumblr has made those who read its submissions much more aware and caring.”

The messages and the emotions they evoke are very powerful, and sometimes very raw. They range from elation and hope to sorrow and despair. And some messages are amazingly kind, some are shockingly rude. Here are some excerpts from the book and the blog:

“You have so many personalities and I don’t like any of them.” [written to a person who is bipolar]

“Don’t worry yourself too much about me. I’ll be fine. I have to run, Babe. Only 9 more days.” [individual serving in Libya, two days prior to his convoy being attacked, to his partner; he died a few days later]

“I’m giving up on you.”

“You don’t have to be so fucking dramatic all the time.” [written by a best friend who cut ties with the other friend]

“I love you so much.” [written by best friend; he died two days later]

“Hey! U still wanna hang out?” [written by friend on the day he took his life]

“I’ll fix this.” [written by a boyfriend who left the relationship]

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Best Poems for Funerals: When Great Trees Fall
How To Grieve for a Lost Friend 

For further reading: The Last Message Received by Emily Trunko
http://thelastmessagereceived.tumblr.com


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