Below, a series of links to pages on the world-wide web, related to and suggested by the readers, editors, and correspondents of Open Letters.
WORK BY OPEN LETTERS CONTRIBUTORS
1. Michael Welch of Tampa, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana, contributed three of our oddest and most popular letters: about a bad trip, a night with Al Gore, and a deceitful plan. He also maintains a highly entertaining online chronicle of his life, called Commonplace.
2. Craig Taylor wrote about an Eminem clone, and then later about moving to London. (He also designed the Open Letters web site, and drew the wizard hats and mailboxes you see here and there.) Now, from London, he publishes an online agglomeration of unusual reviews. It's called Anonymous Juice.
3. Robbie Fulks wrote an open letter about being audited; he also has his own web site, where he publishes his writing and sells his records.
4. Paul Maliszewski wrote a quartet of open letters about moving from Syracuse, New York, to Durham, North Carolina (here's part one, part two, part three, and part four). A couple of years earlier, he wrote this great essay, "I, Faker," and published it in the Baffler. In it, he describes an extended satirical project that he embarked upon while working at The Business Journal of Central New York a while back: he created a dozen or so fake (and often quite deranged) identities, and contributed letters to the editor, guest columns, and eventually made-up feature articles under their names.
Go here to browse through the Baffler's "I, Faker" archives, which include all of the letters that Paul's alter egos sent to the newspaper where he was working, as well as this really entertaining fake article about an entirely invented Watertown, New York, company.
5. Deirdre Dolan did three Open Letters interviews: one with her niece; one with a tech-support guy; and one with the most popular girl in the sixth grade. In April 2001, she expanded her study of popularity with this article, published in the New York Times Magazine.
6. Dean Allen wrote this letter, about his mother's wedding. He also writes this illuminating weblog, which keeps getting better and better. And he maintains and designs and writes this site, which contains assorted personal lists, confessions, and genuinely funny Canadian media criticism, like this and this.
7. Stephen Osborne wrote this letter about a scooter accident and this one about illness. But still he has time to edit Geist, the Canadian magazine of arts and culture; if you go visit the web site, you'll often find new writing by Stephen.
8. Jorge Colombo shared a few of his daily sketches of his neighbors, and his thoughts on being a serial stalker, in this open letter; there are more dailies on his web site.
9. Amy Sohn wrote an open letter for us about long-distance love; on her personal web site you can can read a few of her columns from the New York Press and the New York Post, as well as a chapter of her novel, Run Catch Kiss. Also check out her FAQ, in which she provides readers with notes on the German translation of her book (Laufen Fangen Kussen), as well as tips on spanking; and this selection of rage- and lust-filled letters from readers of the New York Press, in response to "Female Trouble."
10. Dennis Costello wrote this letter, about a broken heart; he also maintains this site, called "Public Readings." In an email to Stacy Abramson, his Open Letters editor, Dennis described it as a "stunningly dull web-site listing all the people I see reading books and magazines on the subway. A couple of years ago I made a resolution that I had to make at least one person every day laugh for a year. When that year was up the resolution was that I had to notice one person every day that I had seen before but that I didn't know. This year I'm working on the 'what people are reading' thing."
11. Jonathan Goldstein wrote this letter, about an old flame; he can also be heard here, interviewing his parents about their record collection. And these are his journals from his trip across Canada for the CBC last summer.
12. John Hodgman wrote this letter about memory, and this one about being shot into space; he also writes this advice column, on McSweeney's.
13. Andy Jenkins wrote this letter about working at a skateboard company; he also has his own publishing company, and edits this letters page.
14. Todd Strandberg took part in this conversation in our pages; it was about his web site, which tracks signs of the coming of the Rapture.
15. Sharon O'Connor wrote this open letter about her daughter Mazie, and this one about pregnancy and mortality. She also publishes a zine about life in Vermont, called Ajax Maple. Information on how to subscribe can be found on this web site.
16. A number of Open Letters contributors played a role in the episode of This American Life about Other People's Mail. The episode includes an account by Dishwasher Pete of finding some discarded mail; a report on the St. Paul, Minnesota, Mail Recovery Center, by Paul Tough; and an anti-voyeurism essay, by Sarah Vowell. It touched on many of the questions of letter-writing, letter-reading, and the voyeuristic impulse that have been mused on and argued over in the pages Open Letters - especially during OPM week, guest-edited by Abby Bridge.
SOME THINGS ABOUT OPEN LETTERS
1. In Mediaweek, David Handelman called us "a novel hybrid between website and traditional magazine."
2. Toronto's NOW magazine said we offer "a strong counterpoint to the confessional first-person blathering that the Web has unleashed in the last few years."
3. The Houston Chronicle called us "an interesting blend of digital and paper."
4. The New York Times called our letters "spontaneous, poignant and immediate."
5. Wired Magazine said that Open Letters "charted new territory between intimacy and public space."
6. The Spectator (from North Carolina) said our letters were "intimate enough that there's a voyeuristic thrill to it, but substantial enough to succeed as fine essays."
7. On Contentville, radio maven David Isay called us "the most interesting thing going on in journalism right now. It's absolutely brilliant -- I've never seen anything like it."
8. In his own Contentville column, Ira Glass said that our web site was "the right scale for someone to write a letter about the fight in her office over who's going to get the nice chairs."
9. The CMJ Music Journal called us "a new and delightful Web magazine with a very small scope." (A reader in Los Angeles saw this clip and was nice enough to scan and email it to us; another recent email, from a reader in Pasadena, began "I, like many people my age, found out about your website through this month's CMJ new music monthly," which conjured up a pleasing image of an indie-rock army heading our way.)
10. A magazine called On the Page published this discursive interview with our editor. Discussion topics included the songs that might make it onto an Open Letters soundtrack.
11. Naomi Klein told British people that she likes Radiohead, and us.
12. NOW Magazine put us on a list.
13. There was a Q & A in List-Tips.
14. One day, we were the site of the day on a site called Site-a-Day.
15. Rock star Ben Lee put us on his own list, near Richard Hell and the Vegetarian Times.
16. SportsJones called Lynn Crosbie's letter about Toronto Maple Leaf goalie Curtis Joseph one of the signal events in sex and sports in the year 2000. (Page down to July.)
17. In March 2001, Open Letters editor Paul Tough was the "special guest" at the Transom, a project designed to open up public radio using the Internet. The ensuing discussion was sometimes about radio, sometimes about Open Letters, and sometimes - a little too often, for our taste - about the importance of writing short sentences.
18. On this bbs, Craig Taylor's design was debated; on this one, the subject was Lauren Zalaznick's letter; over here, on Metafilter, people talked about our abrupt departure. There was also this discussion, again on Metafilter, about Cheryl Wagner's interview with Sam and Zak. And on Michael Welch's Commonplace, this discussion addressed the past, present, and future of Open Letters. (It included this comment from "Fred," on our design: "It's like reading Gretkzy. It's as smooth as Robert Mitchum holding a broad.")
OPEN LETTERS ON THE RADIO
1. Paul Maliszewski's second letter, the one about the truck, was the first open letter to be broadcast over the radio; in April 2001, Paul recorded it for a program called The Savvy Traveler. You can download a RealAudio version of the Savvy Traveler piece by clicking here. And in this discussion, on the Transom, you can read a candid and quite poetic dialogue between Paul and his producer, Ben Adair, about the process of turning an open letter into a radio piece.
2. In April 2001, This American Life broadcast some of the X. Letters, written pseudonymously by Miriam Toews. You can listen to them here.
3. And then in May 2001, This American Life broadcast Cheryl Wagner reading her first open letter, about her neighbor. You can listen to it here.
4. Open Letters editor Paul Tough was on a program called The Connection in May 2001, conversing with the editors of the Baffler and Hermenaut about "little magazines" (this despite Open Letters's vast size). You can read about the show, and listen to some highlights, right here.
SOME BOOKS TO BUY,
BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS
(IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
1. Jonathan Ames's memoir, What's Not to Love: The Adventures of a Mildly Perverted Young Writer.
2. Kevin Baker's novel, Dreamland.
3. Scott Carrier's book, Running After Antelope.
4. Lynn Crosbie's most recent novel, Dorothy L'Amour.
5. Nick Davis's novel, Boone.
6. Jonathan Goldstein's novel, Lenny Bruce Is Dead.
7. Sheila Heti's short-story collection, The Middle Stories.
8. Jonathan Lethem's most recent novel, Motherless Brooklyn.
9. Rick Moody's recent short-story collection, Demonology.
10. Heather O'Neill's collection of poems, Two Eyes Are You Sleeping.
11. Stephen Osborne's collection of essays, Ice and Fire: Dispatches from the New World.
12. Kevin Patterson's memoir, The Water in Between.
13. Stacey Richter's collection of short stories, My Date with Satan.
14. Amy Sohn's novel, Run Catch Kiss.
15. Miriam Toews's imaginative memoir, Swing Low: A Life.
16. Sarah Vowell's collection of essays, Take the Cannoli.
17. Ethan Watters's book of reportage, Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria.
BY OPEN LETTERS READERS
1. This weblog links to Open Letters. It also links to the far more mysterious Triple Homynym page. Note to Jesuits and Talmudic scholars: don't miss the rules.
2. A suggestion from Ira Glass, Chicago radio personality: The Diaryland diary of The Leah.
3. Another Diaryland page we like, because it feels like an open letter, but was written before Open Letters existed. Recommended by Chandra Wiliford.
4. After we published, in Vol. I, no. 5 of the PDF version of Open Letters, a fortune-cookie fortune received by Andy Jenkins, we got an email from reader Tom Magliery. It said, "I was amused by the fortune that your reader Andy Jenkins got this week. I was also pleased to see that 37 was one of the 'lucky numbers.' I have a too-much-time-on-my-hands web page devoted to the number 37."
5. Almost as remarkable: the history of Big Fun, by The Gus. Link provided by Michael Welch. As Michael explains on his own site, Big Fun "really leave[s] you feeling like you know GUS....Highly addictive but easy to consume in small chunks."
6. From reader John Loomis, a student at the University of Arizona: "RodeoLIFE.org was created by seven student photojournalists, me included, this spring semester, as a initial publishing of a group documentary photojournalism project that focused on the rodeo culture in Missouri. For four months the seven of us travelled all over Missouri, and beyond, with our cameras, trying to understand and capture the intangible feeling and spirit of rodeos."
7. Shari, a reader in Montana, wrote recently to say, "Tonight I found an open letter to a blinking cursor. I don't know if you could or would even want to use it, but here's the url. It's a cute letter."
8. Other People's Mail week inspired another reader to write and say "'Other People's Mail' is the kind of conceptual art project that quickens my pulse. Well, it isn't that dramatic. I just want to talk about it more. Anyway, check out ibft.org; I did it when I was a little boy. Some of it still has merit." We went and checked it out, and agreed with the merit thing. Especially this first rant. (Content advisory: angry teenagers, swearing.)
9. Aliza Pollack's letters, and especially this last email exchange, prompted Jodi Kantor, an editor at Slate, to write and say, "I'm pretty down about Aliza's relapse. And now I'm feeling an inverted sense of the guilt that she described today about publishing her chemo stories just as she was getting better. Here I'd been celebrating her remission just as she was facing a stem cell transplant! Anyway, when you send encouragement and compliments and luck to her, please add some from me.
"Her letter also reminded me that I've long wanted to register myself as a stem cell donor. You might find it too cheesy to link her letter to the National Marrow Donation Program's website sort of has that 'what YOU can do!' ring but just so you know, the url is www.marrow.org, and from what I know, they really do need donors."
10. After we published Rick Moody's letter about birdfeeders, and much else, we received a two-sentence-long email from Betsy Lerner of New York, which read: "Mona Van Duyn's poem, 'Letters from a Father,' is all about feeding birds. On the surface." We looked it up, and she's right.
ON ELECTRONIC PUBLISHING
In the process of creating Open Letters, our editors spent a fair amount of time thinking and reading about publishing on the Internet, as an idea and a practical reality. Here are a few articles and commentaries on that subject that we found intriguing.
1. On the first version of our links page, we linked to Jason Epstein's essay in the New York Review of Books in April, about print-on-demand publishing and e-books, and said at the time that "We like to think that the only reason he didn't mention Open Letters is that it didn't exist back then." Matthew Howard, the Director of Electronic Publishing at the Review, wrote us to say, "I'm sure you're right. You might also be interested in the second part." He was right: we were.
2. Stephen King's own PDF experiment was a source of encouragement to Open Letters - or at least it was until he called it quits. Here, King explains why he packed it in ("my agent insists I need to take a breather"); here, he defends his efforts from criticism by the New York Times ("Neither the sums generated nor the future of publishing is the point. The point is trying some new things; pushing some new buttons and seeing what happens").
3. The surly and insightful James Cramer gave up on online content in this column, in which he wrote, "The Net has gone from being the most exciting thing in our lives to a giant drag in no time flat and everybody who's involved with it knows this but refuses to admit it. We go right along staring at the Media Metrix numbers and page-view data and we pretend that everything's just fine."
4. James Cramer continued those bummed-out thoughts in the pages of Fortune: "Nobody really cares for the Internet except for the newspapers and magazines that live off the advertising on it, and people who can't sleep and need something to do. It has created an undisciplined culture of slothfulness and foolishness that's now a culture of despair."
5. An article from Wired News about the growing incidence of people signing up for online service, and then never logging on.
6. A Reuters article on the fact that in late 2000, use of the web began to drop off precipitously.
7. A story from USA Today about the fact that the number of U.S. households with Internet access fell in the first quarter of 2001 for the first time in 21 years.
SOME OTHER THINGS
1. Four radio projects we admire, and overlap with sometimes: This American Life, Sound Portraits Productions, The Transom, and Road Dot Trip.
2. Another daily art project we like: Exploding Dog, by Sam Brown.
3. A great mini-memoir by Geoff Dyer, published in Feed.
4. Speaking of Geoff Dyer, please enjoy this bewilderingly complex analysis of his popularity on the Internet, from the Complete Review.
5. A remarkable online diary by a young woman in Nepean, Ontario, can be found here. Our favorite entries: The Summer of 2000 and The Calgary Ordeal.
6. Louis Theroux interviews David Soul. Minutes of reading pleasure for fans of either man.
7. The Moth. Excellent live story-telling, in New York City. Open Letters contributors Jonathan Ames and Amy Sohn are frequent guests.
8. A beautiful poem penned in homage to the president of the United States. And from Canada, a collection of that nation's finest cheese poetry.
9. The house band of Open Letters: The Hot Club of Cowtown. Please buy their most recent CD.
10. During the first Open Letters / Hot Club of Cowtown tour, we stopped in for an impromptu on-air concert at KHUM, in pastoral Ferndale, California. KHUM is what our designers used to listen to (on real audio, via the web) on Saturdays while laying out the weekly. It's a nice station, especially if you like hippie music.