I’m not one to read books written by celebrities, but I read a review of this memoir that intrigued me enough to give it a try. I was maybe ten pages in when I sat down and ordered five copies for gifts—my faith in its being a great book was that strong. As I continued to the finish, that view was momentarily tested here and there, but ultimately confirmed. Forget that this woman is a famous actress, forget that she’s the sexiest being on the planet, this woman is *deep.*
In *Dear Mr. You* Parker has written a series of pseudo-letters to particular men, most of them generically designated (“Dear Emergency Contact,” “Dear Yaqui Indian Boy,” “Dear Grandpa,” etc.), who have all been part of or influenced her life. The narrative is in the second person (the subjects are all addressed as “you”), which as it turns out is an elliptical but effective form of storytelling. This approach lends an offbeat perspective, in which the person addressed seems to know more about Parker than she does, while at the same time each letter is equally revealing about both of them. I call the book a memoir, but it defies categorization—feels like fiction, structured like essay. Really it’s just one soul speaking directly to others, with us peering over their shoulders.
The writing is simultaneously casual and sophisticated. Offhand sentences thrust you into the heart of life. Tiny telling moments echo with the particular and the universal. Few words are ever wasted. Parker has a fine ear for dialogue and a good grasp of idea, and all of this gets thrown at the page in a way that seems hasty but is really cunning. Parker is impatient with stylistic norms like quotation marks; she uses them from time to time, but often the words just can’t be held within the fences of convention and pour onto the page for the reader to sort out. I’m a copy editor and ought to hate this but I don’t.
As for the Parker who emerges from this gumbo, she is passionate and inward, loving and angry, vulnerable and strong, earthbound and spiritual, all of human experience right there for us to laugh and cry with. She embodies the old Whitman cliché (“You say that I contradict myself; very well then, I contradict myself: I am large, I contain multitudes”). But in the end, if we all had the courage to be as ruthlessly honest as she is, wouldn’t the same be true of us?
A blow-my-eyes-off 5-star read for me.
- Paperback: 228 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (14 June 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1501107844
- ISBN-13: 978-1501107849
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 20.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 281 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)