Just one more excellent reason to never write letters to celebrities.
There’s plenty to like about an epistolary tale. For the reader, there’s the sense of eavesdropping on a private conversation. For the writer, there’s the advantage of not having to worry so much about character or setting; as long as you provide a consistent voice, some funny scenes, and a smooth arc of action, it’s in the bag. This collection of apocryphal missives—via second-novelist Kun (A Thousand Benjamins, 1990)—details the sad plight of one Sid Straw, a computer salesman in Maryland and proud graduate of UCLA. Sid is convinced (though nobody else seems to be) that he briefly knew the actress Heather Locklear at school and writes to request an autographed photograph as a birthday present for his brother Tom, “a HUGE fan . . . not just ‘Melrose Place,’ but your other TV shows, too.” As Sid seems to be borderline obsessive-compulsive, just one missive won’t do it, of course. He sends a veritable torrent of letters, each one wanting to know more about Heather’s life, why she hasn’t written back, whether she’ll be at the class reunion, etc. The flood widens to include additional correspondence: to the mailroom that won’t properly deliver his mail, the agent who won’t forward his letters to Heather, the lawyer threatening him with a restraining order, the publisher that mistakenly keeps mailing him pornographic books, the flower delivery service that screwed up a note to his girlfriend, who later left him, and so on. While Sid is obviously a man with problems (Rupert Pupkin from The King of Comedy seems an inspiration), they’re mostly garden-variety compulsions familiar to most people; everyone knows a guy like Sid, which gives the comedy a bitter tang.
A quick and enjoyable tour of the lighter, funnier side of dementia.