Essays to the Ones Who Haunt UsSatisfaction:
When Colleen Kinder put out a call to writers to answer the question, what stranger haunts you? she knew she had opened the floodgates. The responses, short and addictive, all in the form of letters, all written in the second person, began pouring in her and website column “Letter to a Stranger” was born. Now Kinder has selected the most extraordinary of these responses, solicited plenty more from formidable cast of writers as diverse themselves as the strangers—and places—they invoke. The essays in Letter to a Stranger are organized around intriguing themes such as Mystery, Gratitude, Wonder, Remorse, and Farewell, and what energizes them all is the quest to unpack a common underlying mystery: How can an encounter so ephemeral leave such an eternal mark?
Each letter allows us to travel in time, in place, and in away each essay is a ghost. Bestselling author Leslie Jamison, who provides a foreword to the collection, has long been haunted by a traveling magician she met years ago in Nicaragua; Journalist Ted Conover writes his missive to a stranger he met on a New Yorker assignment in Rwanda in 1993. Travel writer Lavinia Spalding remembered a Dutchman she met in Thailand. There is a letter from a playwright; a student; a novelist; a poet. A letter to a lost child, a bodyguard, a woman on a subway, a man named Sick. From Elizabeth Kolbert’s Peruvian loner climbing at high altitude Gregory Pardlo’s drunk stranger in Avignon to Pico Iyer’s lost trishaw driver in Myanmar, these stories are replete with observations about how to live and what to seek, how a stranger’s loaded glance, shared smile, or question posed can change and alter even the seemingly ordinary hours of our lives.