I watched a gripping film recently that some of you who subscribe (but never comment except in email!) may have seen titled We Need to Talk About Kevin. I noticed on the menu list that there was contained within, an interview with the author of the novel about which the book was written. With a desire for eager consumption, my daughter and I selected this option. We were to be grievously injured by it. Not only did this detestable (in my opinion from 30 seconds of an interview) woman seem to have a narrow view of motherhood, postpartum depression, and mental illnesses in children, but she also opened her mouth and vomited all over the epistolary novel!
I had intended to read it, as everyone who spends more than 5 minutes in serious conversation with me knows that the portion of air I breathe that is not my children belongs to Les Liaisons Dangereuses and the subsequent movies it spawned.
However, the author, with her spewing verbiage on camera, turned me off. She stated her book was tested to some readers and it was suggested that she make it a series of letters so she simply "stuck Dear" at the beginning of each chapter and " Love," at the end. "And there you have it. An epistolary."
To write an effective epistolary, one must needs employ such a thing as talent, rather than the childish idea that letters begin with Dear and end with Love. Epistolaries, likewise, need not be completed with letters. Epistolaries may rely upon only what one is told in a series of legal documents discovered in the briefcase of a dead man. An epistolary may tell its story through the eyes, and diary, of a young girl, hiding for her life in the middle of a deadly crusade against her people. Furthermore, an epistolary's story may unfold through newspaper articles, the importance of which may increase to the reader as the page number in the publication decreases and becomes a very vocal portion of the story itself! And the writer of the epistolary novel must have eloquence that may be ignored in typical modes of conveying stories to readers.
So, I have decided to come up with a list of epistolary novels that will get you on your feet if you decide to check out this unique and exciting form of literature. And this time, tell me which ones you like, or reasons you don't like them!
1. Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
2. Dracula by Bram Stoker
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
5. Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson
6. Poor Folk by Dostoyevski
7. The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder
For Young People
1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney
2. Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks
3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
4. The Pox Party by M. T. Anderson
5. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
6. Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix
7. Kathleen, Please Come Home by Scott O'dell
1. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
2. Diary: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk
3. Fan Mail by Ronald Munson
4. The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie
5. The Documents in the Case by Dorothy L. Sayers
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
7. Overqualified by Joey Comeau