March 05, 2007

a fan letter

Mr Carey,

I am not, in the immortal words of one Elwood Blues, the kind of guy who writes letters. I’m not the kind of guy, especially, who writes fan letters. I am inevitably content, when reading the written word, to find for myself the slight inconsistencies, the tiny flaws, and content myself in the idea that this, then, is something I could have done myself. This book I read, in the moments before sleep, or rattling along on a tram, is something I could have come up with, if only I’d had the idea, and the plot, and managed to flesh out all the characters and find the denouement properly and clean up the second act and use the gun from the first and carry that on for 50,000 odd words.

Whenever my friends, relatives and assorted hangers on asked, Mr Carey, about why I didn’t write, me, who writes thousands of words a day, I told them with conviction that “I write all day, why would I want to write when I get home?” I also told them, and half believed it myself, that I didn’t have anything to write about. That there was no story in me trying to get out.

That changed for me the day I found out my wife was pregnant. Of a sudden, Mr Carey, there were words in me struggling to surface. There were things that I knew I wanted to tell this tiny being that couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t wait.

I started then, in August of 2005, to write a letter to my as yet unborn son. I’m still writing it. It’s on the internet, annotating dates and events, illustrated with photographs of my beautiful son.

I took it seriously. I TAKE it seriously. This ability for me, now, to speak to him, then. This ongoing one sided communication, that transcends the communication we’re able to have now. I felt, Mr Carey, wonderful about what I was doing.

Our children, we are convinced, are unique. Our feelings for them must therefore also be unique. They are not.

The fierce love with which I gaze upon my child, the total awe in which I hold his every movement, smile, giggle and jump, these are feelings that a million fathers before me and a billion afterwards will have.

Reading your book, I think, was the first time that I’ve been totally floored by another father’s eloquence in describing those feelings. I read your book in one sitting, in about 15 minutes, between the top and the bottom of Brunswick St on a sunny Monday after work.

You’ve touched me deeply with the love you’ve expressed to your wife and your baby, and I felt compelled to thank you.

Warmest Regards,
Bill Dennis.

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