I'm very pleased to introduce to you the wonderful Naomi Bulger, author of the newly released novella Airmail. Naomi has written us a guest post that I think you all should check out below. It is based on her experience with penpals growing up and the impact of technology on penpalling. At the end of her post, Naomi has generously offered up a copy of her book to one lucky winner!
Growing up I had a cousin, Laurence, who lived in New Caledonia. We only ever met once but we wrote letters every month, each using the other’s language to practice what we learned at school. Ours was a form of friendship that has all-but died out in today’s world, as far as I can tell: we were pen-pals.
We’d write about our lives. In broken English, Laurence would tell me what it was like to dig for pipis in the shallow waters by the beach, then cook them in the sand. She’d tell me about breakfast with Tontine Yvonne (our mutual aunty), who’d spill all the family gossip while breaking open baguettes to let the steam escape and spreading them inside with candied honey.
In broken French, I’d tell Laurence about the horse-riding lessons I was taking out in the Australian bush, the costume I planned to wear to my end-of-year ballet recital, and that my singing teacher had given us a black-and-white puppy who had a crooked ear but already knew how to sit and shake hands.
My pleasure in receiving a letter from Laurence began even before I opened it. On the red and blue-trimmed airmail envelope, my address in her handwriting was a beautiful cursive compared to my childlike print, rich with old-fashioned loops and swirls although she was only 10. The stamps were foreign. Often, Laurence would draw little pictures on the outside of the envelope, or decorate them with scratch ‘n sniff stickers.
That was more than 20 years ago. I don’t have pen-pals today, I have Facebook friends. I don’t write letters, I send text-messages. And I don’t write anything out by hand. I’m much faster at typing.
I could mourn the lost art of letter-writing, and in some senses I do. Writing a letter by hand is deeply personal, and the reader gains insight into the very process of your thinking, as your mistakes or changes of heart are crossed out, and new thoughts are crammed between the lines and into the margins.
But if I’m honest, I think I miss the romance of letters more than the intimacy it provided. Email, Skype and instant messaging bring us closer than letters ever made us. What we lose in penmanship and the tactile joy of paper in the hand, we gain in the frequency with which we’re now able to share, and the presence of our friends’ voices and even their faces. My friends overseas, now, are more than pen-pals. They are true pals. When we need each other, we can be instantly in touch.
So I wouldn’t substitute today’s technology for yesterday’s romance, but there’s no reason why I can’t have both. Today I’m going to message my friends on Facebook and ask them for their postal addresses. And every now and then, I’m going to write one of them a letter. Just for fun. Now, where did I put those scratch ‘n sniff stickers?
My question for you: Did you have a childhood pen-pal? What did you write about?
Airmail, a new magic realism novella by Naomi Bulger, was published in April 2011, and is available online at Barnes Noble and numerous other good bookstores. Naomi maintains a blog about writing, creativity and the absurdities of life at www.naomibulger.com, and she promises to write a personal letter of thanks to everyone who buys a copy of Airmail.
Book and Giveaway Details:
Reclusive old Mr. G.L. Solomon's favorite things are single malt whiskey, Steve McQueen movies, and gingersnap cookies. He hates processed cheese, washing detergent commercials, and the way the teacup rattles in the saucer when he picks it up. Solomon has become accustomed to his lonely routine in Sydney, Australia-until the day he begins sporadically receiving letters in his mailbox from a complete stranger. On the other side of the world, Anouk is a mentally delicate young woman living in New York who insists she is being stalked by a fat woman in a pink tracksuit. When Anouk declares to Solomon that she is writing "from the Other Side," the old man breaks away from his daily grind of watching soap operas and reading Fishing World and travels to New York to find her. As he is drawn into Anouk's surreal world of stalkers and storytelling, marbles and cats, purgatory and Plato, Solomon has but one goal-to unravel the mystery before it is too late.
How to enter:
Leave a comment stating you want to be entered into the giveaway as well as a way to contact you if you win.
-Must be 13 or older to participate
-one copy of Airmail by Naomi Bulger will be awarded to a random entry chosen by Random.org random number generator
-follow 100 Stars Or Less (this blog) on Google Friend Connect
-Spread the news by sharing a link to the giveaway (Twitter, Facebook, Sidebar, etc)
-Leave a comment answering Naomi's question above
Giveaway ends May 28, 2011
Winner will be announced on 100 Stars Or Less and will be notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond or another entry will be chosen as an alternative winner.