Distractions, Break-Ups, & Holiday Cheer

Emily M. Keeler is a writer and the editor of...

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Isn’t it kind of an extraordinary gift that someone recorded Frank O’Hara reading this poem, and that we can call up the ghost of this moment whenever we like?

Don’t worry if your mantle seems to be missing a few hallmark holiday updates; chances are you’ve spent all year reading a little bit about what you’re friends and their families have been up to. While it’s a nice idea—and Alexis Madrigal’s take on it is worth a read—there’s something nice about the feeling of having been singled out for the newsletter; even if you’re getting the same message as everyone else on the list, the act of having your loved one specifically select you for said list feels more intimate than so many fragments broadcast across the digital private-public spectrum.

Speaking of correspondence: Here’s a small collection of break-up letters from famous authors. Edith Wharton officially ending it with a lout she loved stands out as a bitter and bracing delight, or in her own words, “a cruel & capricious amusement.”

Philip Glass, John Ashbery, and Geoff Dyer all make for pleasant enough distractions, but pay attention to this Giles Harvey essay.