To be published on the centenary of her birth, this collection representing Porter's working years, 1930-63, is a feast--one that she would have enjoyed immensely--given her appetite for pleasure, life, friendship, conversation, and ideas--and a festive reminder that Porter was an amazing human being as well as writer. Porter treasured letters as if they were on extension of her art, and, intending them for eventual publication, kept copies of hers and those of all her correspondents. Although she claims repeatedly that letters were only a substitute for conversation, hers are so loving, generous, sage, crafted, charming, and imaginative that one envies the recipients. They reveal the many levels on which she functioned: her contradictions and intensities; her sense of irony, melancholy, delight, and adventure; her need for ""housekeeping and duty and trusteeship,"" as she called her perennial quest for a residence; and her equally compelling need to travel, which led her throughout America, Mexico, Europe, and on the great sea voyage that led after 20 years to her only novel, Ship of Fools. In long essay letters to her nephew, she offers observations on racism, dreams, politics, love, marriage (a ""starvation of the heart""--Porter had four of them), age (""I like being alive more every year""), homosexuals (""Little Peepll""), contemporary writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald, public personalities, including Charlie Chaplin and JFK. Mostly, though, she writes about being a writer, her sense of vocation, the inner life, her financial problems, her achievements, honors, and awards. ""I love to praise what I love,"" Porter wrote, and she loved so many things that her letters become a great song of praise to a world of ordinary things--gardens, children, strawberry jam, her audiences, the views from all her many windows, parties, poetry, and mostly the people that she was writing to.