Reviews in 200 Words

Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball

In Fiction on March 4, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Writing a letter is still so intimate; there’s something about the ritual of the address, the greeting, the raw honesty, the vulnerability, the closing. That repetition becomes comforting. Even letters that aren’t sent communicate something. Jonathan Bender writes letters to everyone he knows; every thing he knows. In the letters of this character, Kimball suggests that, perhaps, writing a letter is the most effective form of expression: it removes the body but preserves the absolute spirit. And it’s a thing. A thing to hold and smell and keep tucked away. Written documents stand up to time: interviews, lists, diaries, letters. Without these things, we don’t exist. Without these things, certainly, Jonathan Bender does not exist. Here, Kimball allows his character to edit its own life: Bender writes about everything; what in the world is he not writing? “Dear Dad, Thank you for leaving us when you did. It was a while before Robert and I realized that you had moved out of the house, especially since you and Mom never really told us that you did. But after I figured that out, I liked knowing that you weren’t coming home;” Bender is pathetic, and heartbreaking and real.

-Micah Ling

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