Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Dear Holden Caulfield . . . " LETTERS WITH CHARACTER: AN INTERACTIVE LITERARY ENVIRONMENT

What He's Poised to Do by Ben GreenmanHave you ever read a novel that possessed you so intensely that you fantasized about corresponding with the characters? As a child, the five sisters—Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertiewho came of age in turn-of-the-century Lower East Side New York City in the All-of-a-Kind Family series of books by Sydney Taylor, as well as disgraced aspiring writer-cum-spy Harriet M. Welsch of New York City's posh Upper East Side in Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, were literary characters who vividly held my imagination as well as my heart. When I was an angst-ridden teenager I would have loved to have been the pen pal of Holden Caulfield of The Catcher in the Rye.

Ben Greenman, an editor at The New Yorker and the author of the upcoming books What He's Poised to Do: Stories and Celebrity Chekhov, has just launched a very clever and fun blog named Letters with Character: Letters Written to Fictional Characters by Actual People. It is an interactive literary environment in which Greenman encourages people to submit letters to their favorite literary characters. In essence it is also a wonderful and fun learning toola perfectly engaging creative writing prompt for your students. Student's letters to a fictional character can be funny, sad, demanding, fanciful, declarative, or trivial. They can be about a novel, a short story, or a children’s book, works both literary or popular. There is only one requirement: the letters must be written by a real person and must also address an unreal one.

The best, most interesting, strangest, and most moving letters will be collected on the blog. Visit the site to see a selection of those that have already been written, including a critique of Shakespeare's Goneril, a moving consideration of middle age addressed to a García Márquez heroine, and a hilarious query to Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm.
Students may submit their letters to fictional characters to LettersWithCharacter@gmail.com.

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