Thursday, 5 November 2009

Letters Never Mailed: 32 Years of Writing to Tom Waits, by Susan Borgeson

Susan Borgeson's place among modern day existentialist writers is definitely at the front table. The evidence that remains is within the pages of this book---and what does remain after writing Tom Waits everyday for 32 years--with no response--is truly remarkable. A woman of letters is an understated description of a courageous individual that was stricken in her teens with mild schizophrenia and severe, bi-polar (manic-depression) disorder. Her individual struggle to overcome is a lesson for women of all ages, and for anyone with a mental handicap. These ‘ letters’ were all written around the turn of the 21st century. And, nearly 10 years later , still have a reflexive quality that transcends the psychologist’s case study. Borgeson's letters have remained fresh and give meaning to our shared and diverse humanity….Richard Collins, RedEye Publishing International

According to the foreword by Richard Collins, over a period of 32 years Susan Borgeson sent Tom Waits more than 5,000 letters (which works out to a new letter every two or three days), but didn't ever receive a single response. This book contains just nine unedited poems which she wrote over forty-two hours, illustrated with photographs of her original handwritten drafts.

I am concerned by the excessive nature of Miss Borgeson's behaviour, and by her history of mental illness, and so have decided that it would not be appropriate for me to give this book the review that it deserves. But if Richard Collins of RedEye Publishing International took even a single penny from Miss Borgeson to pay for her publication, he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, regardless of her mental state.


Nicola Slade said...

That many unsolicited letters sounds perilously close to stalking, doesn't it? It does seem a pity to make capital out of it.

Hodmandod said...

I was thinking the book published a selection of the letters. Did it not? Quite strange this one.

Anonymous said...

My first reaction was to be disappointed in Tom Waits. How difficult is it to reply to one letter?

(Of course, a response could have escalated the communication efforts, and I don't know what she wrote in those letters, but people with fans who ignore their fans - or are too "busy" to humor them - are undeserving of those fans.)

Derek said...

According to the forward

Jane! Ahem ... forward?

Jane Smith said...

Nicola, I share your concerns. Especially after having read this book. Consequently I have to say that I think Mr Waits did exactly the right thing in making no response: if the sample of poetry contained in this book is representative of the letters he was sent, he really had no alternative.

Hodmandod, the book contains a very short series of poems which were written for Tom Waits. I wouldn't describe them as letters, exactly, but they're not the best poems I've read, either.

And Derek: I don't know what you mean. (Ooops.)