In 2020, grief and pain, often such lonely emotions, are being faced almost universally. The widespread pain of the coronavirus pandemic, its economic fallout, and the long overdue reckoning on racial injustices, can, and do, trigger our personal traumas in unexpected ways. Pam Houston and Amy Irvine delve into these issues, and more, in Air Mail, Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place. What began for these acclaimed authors (who had not been acquainted before) as a correspondence for an Orion magazine feature on how writers were making their way through the isolation of sheltering-in-place due to COVID-19, became a sustaining interchange for them. And for me. Every night this small, powerful book sat on my bedside table, I let myself read one of each of their letters, and by reading their anger, fear, and resolve, I came to understand my own feelings better and found determination of my own.
From the day-to-day (savoring the small joys of their mountain homes, to fearing the hugs of their mask-less hyper-masculine neighbors) to the nation- and planet-wide concerns of the day (the systematic dismantling of environmental protections, and global climate disruption), they took me on a journey, though none of us left home.
Houston and Irvine still had not met by the end of the book, but the foundation of their friendship had been solidly laid, the sources of their individual anguish courageously explored, and their resolve to survive and thrive through it all had been fortified. And so had mine. I would be surprised if they aren’t still writing now, months after the last letter in Air Mail. I’m buying this book for my best friends. When you turn its final pages, maybe you will too (at Bookworks website (for now, due to COVID-19), of course).
This book is fierce love in motion. --LIDIA YUKNAVITCH When the state of Colorado ordered its residents to shelter in place in response to the spread of coronavirus, writers Pam Houston and Amy Irvine--who had never met--began a correspondence based on their shared devotion to the rugged, windswept mountains that surround their homes, one on either side of the Continental Divide. As the numbers of infected and dead rose and the nation split dangerously over the crisis, Houston and Irvine found their letters to one another nearly as necessary as breath. Part tribute to wilderness, part indictment against tyranny and greed, Air Mail: Letters of Politics, Pandemics, and Place reveals the evolution of a friendship that galvanizes as it chronicles a strange new world.
About the Author
PAM HOUSTON is the author of the memoir, Deep Creek: Finding Hope In The High Country, as well as two novels, Contents May Have Shifted and Sight Hound, two collections of short stories, Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat, and a collection of essays, A Little More About Me. She teaches in the Low Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, is Professor of English at UC Davis, and cofounder and creative director of the literary nonprofit Writing By Writers. She lives at nine thousand feet above sea level near the headwaters of the Rio Grande. AMY IRVINE is a sixth-generation Utahn and longtime public lands activist. She is the author of Desert Cabal: A New Season in the Wilderness, a response to Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and the Colorado Book Award. Irvine teaches in the MFA program of Southern New Hampshire University. She lives and writes in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.