I had no idea that Mary-Louise Parker was a writer. Although Dear Mr You is her first book, she had previously had other work published. I honestly didn’t know much about the book until I heard her interviewed on NPR. I love not only her interview, in which she connected with fans of her work, but also her description of the book. The book is comprised of a group of letters written to some important people, and some not so important people in her life.
It is deeply personal, and as a public figure, I feel like I kind of know her. Yet, after reading her stories, I guess I really don’t. The stories that she tells are very personal, going deeper than anything I had ever read about her. I remember her public breakup with Billy Cruddup years ago, and wondered which of these stories, if any, were about him. Her stories range from a taxi driver who was tasked with driving her while pregnant, possibly in labor with her first child, to a letter written to her father, a seemingly humble guy, a WWII vet, an inspiration to her and her siblings.
It’s this letter that touched me most. To him, she says:
“We all miss you something fierce, those of us who wouldn’t exist had you not kept walking when an ordinary person would have fallen to his knees. To convey in any existing language how I miss you isn’t possible. It would be like blue trying to describe the ocean.”
Another incredibly touching letter is written to the uncle of her adopted daughter. I happened to be at gymnastics with my daughter, trying to concentrate on reading while other mothers and kids were talking and playing when I got to this part of the book. Her stunning description of this incredible act of trust brought me to tears. (Slightly embarrassing to be crying in public for no apparent reason). A mother she had never met before, handing over this tiny baby, knowing they’ll never meet again. It’s something I can’t even begin to understand, and though she doesn’t describe anything about this process of adoption, or inclusion of this baby in her family, she describes her feelings of overwhelming joy and humility, and the feelings she thought the mother might have had in giving this baby away.
I also really loved the story that she wrote to her neighbor. Without knowing much about her personal life, the essays reveal a few bits and pieces. It seems as if she left New York with her kids in tow. Maybe she hasn’t left the city for good, but enjoys spending time in the country. Maybe upstate, this neighbor is helping her adjust to life in the country, how to use the land, taking care of vegetable and herb plants, and her animals. Interestingly, there is an essay written to one of her goats.
Although no names are really mentioned, I feel closely acquainted with Ms Parker. She seems creative, kind, sensitive, and funny. Like you could tell her anything and she would completely understand, and not judge. She has some really great stories to tell. I loved reading this – and was so surprised by her prose. I’ve been a fan for years – and I loved this book. I’ll be looking forward to whatever she writes next!