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Men Write Letters

BY John Blase Journal
BY Alex Via

Men don’t write letters to one another.

That’s so much bullshit. Two of the manliest men on the planet, close friends and authors Jim Harrison and Tom McGuane, have exchanged weekly letters for the past 45 years. You read that correctly - weekly, for the last 45 years. What in the world did they write to one another about? I met McGuane once at a book signing in Denver, and asked him that very question. Well, we can’t talk very much politics because it turns into a pissing match. So we talk about the things most everybody else talks about: wives, children, horses, dogs, work, etc.

Letter writing. It’s old fashioned, no doubt, probably always has been. And like many old fashioned things, it’s back in style these days, sorta. You can purchase high dollar stationary, an even higher dollar fountain pen, and then you can snap Instagram pics of your hand holding the pen ever so slightly above the paper as you get like after like after like. This gives the impression that you’re stylishly old fashioned, sorta. You can do that. Or, you can buy some inexpensive paper, one of those Pilot G2 rollers, and then you can actually write a letter to a close friend and tell him a few things about your week. The chances are good you’ll only get one like, from the recipient, and hopefully it will be enough to cause him to want to write you back.

That’s fine, but I prefer to text or email my friends. It’s the same thing.

That’s the impression, that it’s the same. But not so fast, amigo. Although there may be other differences, here’s one to consider: texture, or how it feels. Sending a text or email has no texture, typing on flat keys onto a flat screen. Flat. A handwritten letter though contains the feel of a pen in your fingers, and the feel of the cool, smooth paper beneath your hand, and the feel of creasing and folding that piece of paper, and the feel of shoving it in an envelope, and possibly (if you’re real old fashioned) the feel of your tongue licking that bitter paste strip in order to seal up your thoughts. Handwriting a letter will give you, as the kids say these days, all the feels. It’s much like the difference between looking at the SI swimsuit issue and having your arm around an actual living, breathing swimsuit model. Got your attention, didn’t I? Bottom line is, it’s not the same.


So start small, a paragraph or two, you don’t need to write a four-page letter. Your friend wouldn’t read four pages anyway. And be honest. Share some things about life, what’s on your mind, then tag it with a signature closing. Wallace Stegner, another manly man who loved to write letters to friends, routinely signed off with Coraggio (Latin for courage). Sign your name then mail it. Oh, and you’ll need a stamp, another old fashioned thing.

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