Noteworthy Letters

“Tennis, trigonometry, tornadoes: A Midwestern boyhood” is an essay by David Foster Wallace that is available in PDF form, from Harper’s Magazine. Autobiographical in nature, this essay melds the three title topics into a single story, the story of a Midwestern boyhood. Set in the environs of Champaign-Urbana, IL, it is a wonderful memoir about Mr. Wallace’s brief junior tennis career, his aptitude for mathematics and the omnipresent wind of northern Illinois. I downloaded and printed the essay. After I read it, I offered it to Anne to read. After she had started reading it, she realized that this Wallace was the same author of “Infinite Jest”, a very dense and at 900 pages, a very long novel that she had read earlier this year. I would never have the patience or the perseverance to tackle “Infinite Jest”, but I found “Tennis, trigonometry, tornadoes” to be quite the delectable little morsel. It was rich in flavor, with complex language and infused with right brain thinking.

On a less sophisticated note, but in its way just as literary as anything that Wallace has written, Anne handed me a note today, from one of her students. It goes something like this:

Ms. R,

I am hungry. How much time do we have left in class?


P.S. I am also tired, and I have a headache.


It should be said that this person is as into cats, as some people are into mice. Purr

A couple of weeks ago a website, called Letters of Note, had a moment in the sun. Various news outlets, including NPR, attributed it, in their articles about John Lennon’s to-do list. Written to his man-servant shortly before his murder, it lists the assigned chores for the day. The to-do list made the news, because it was due to be auctioned off. Perusing Letters of Note, I found this other letter to be much more noteworthy. A 6-year-old girl named Jessica Morley, takes an exception to and then proceeds to lay waste to (with pugnacious precociousness) a commentator from “The Economist”, for his article about children.