“Fat Buttery Words”: Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note

Letters of Note

NPR’s All Things Considered is running a week-long feature on Shaun Usher’s recent book Letter’s Of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience. It’s a fascinating compilation  (including both scanned copies and typed transcripts of each letter). You’ll recognize some of the collection’s writers and recipients  – Jack Kerouac to Marlon Brando, Amelia Earhart to George Putnam, for instance – but all the letters are deeply resonant and thought provoking. On Monday’s broadcast, Usher reads Robert Pirosh’s 1934 cover letter for a job application to MGM. We might also characterize this piece as a love letter to words, one that logophiles like us can appreciate. Here’s a snippet:

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, today. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty.

Listen to Usher read the entirety of Pirosh’s letter here. It’s even better aloud!

Usher’s book grew out of his website Letters of Note, which includes a treasure trove of correspondence. His other projects – Lists of Note and Letterheady – are equally fascinating. Letterheady includes images of famous, beautiful, and/or historically relevant letterheads. Usher explains on his website that it and Letters of Note constitute his “online homages to offline correspondence.” Lists of Note presents a compilation of lists, from “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Turkey Recipes,” to Rudyard Kipling’s “Simple Rules for Life in London,” to Thomas Nashe’s “The Eight Kindes of Drunkenness.”  Usher recently published a hardcopy edition of these letters in his book Lists of Note.

Trust us – you want to wander through these collections. They’re fantastic.

Usher’s Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience can be purchased on Amazon for $23.50, or as a Kindle edition for $9.80.

Lists of Note can also be found on Amazon for $33.99, or $12.99 as a Kindle edition.

Follow Shaun Usher and his various projects: @shaunusher, @LettersOfNote, @ListsOfNote