I love the mail. For more years than I care to say, it’s been a source of serendipity: an array of books, magazines and journals -- something to which I look forward every day. The mail is also, it should go without saying, essential to how I do my job.
I rely on the books that arrive in my mailbox. Right now, along one wall of my home office, there are five tall stacks of advance reading copies, waiting for me to think about what I want to write and what I do not want to write, what I'm going to review.
I get something like 100 books a week, and often, the bulk ends in a discard pile, waiting by the front door. Partly, this is a matter of survival -- how much reading can one person do? -- but even more, it has to do with interest, with engagement, with the sheer volume of books that are published and sent out, an unending monologue in print, a blur.
For a writer, that can be humbling -- to see how continuous is our torrent of printed language, to understand how unlikely it is that anyone will notice what we do. At the same time, it’s also liberating because if it offers any lesson, it is to follow your instincts, to write what you want and let serendipity (that word again) take care of the rest.