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The Whalestoe Letters


The Whalestoe Letters

Dearest Wonderful Reader,

Where are you? Are you there? I haven't heard from you in so long.
I have been doing quite well, and perhaps, it's time we got better

My name is THE WHALESTOE LETTERS. I am a small but beautiful book
written by Mark Z. Danielewsi, the acclaimed author of HOUSE OF
LEAVES, one of the most critically acclaimed books of last year.
Have you heard of it? Read it? It will surely make an impact on
you, my Dear Wonderful Reader. Newsweek called it "one of the most
ambitious, complicated and eagerly anticipated literary debuts of
the year." Newsweek was right. But, I'm here to talk to you about
me, my story, my life.

I've been taken out of the HOUSE OF LEAVES and made into my own
elegant volume. I am a series of letters written by Johnny Truant's
mother, Pelafina Leivre. She sent them from the Three Attic
Whalestoe Institute, a psychiatric hospital. Pelafina was there for
many years. Her husband, Johnny's father, took her there. It was
hard for him. Harder for Johnny. Harder still for Pelafina, for she
loves Johnny more than she loves life.

These letters are beautiful. They are poetry. They are power. They
are brilliant and compelling, compassionate and tender, sad and
disheartening. They will bring a tear to your eye. Hidden within
the recesses of every mind (no matter how sane, how righteous, how
secure, how smart, how hidden) is an undying love. That love
Pelafina put into words for her son:

"Dear dear devoted Johnny, Is it possible? Will I really see you in
ten days? After all these years, am I to finally marvel at your
face and touch your hands and taste for myself the sweetness of
your voice?...Hurry. Hurry. I won't be able to sleep until I have
you at my side filling my ear with your adventures and plans. With
too much love for even the word to hold, Mommy."

Written between 1982 and 1989, these letters are heartfelt and
tragic, as you see Pelafina's mind slowly unravel, unravel towards
her precocious, gifted young son whom she never ceases to love, no
matter how far away he is, or how far away she is:

"As I indicated in my last letter, I've grown increasingly
suspicious about the staff here, especially where my personal care
is concerned. I need to feel we can correspond without
interference. For now all you need to do is place in your next
letter a check mark in the lower right hand corner. That way I'll
know you received this letter. Don't make the check mark too big or
too small or else the New Director will know something's

Read me, THE WHALESTOE LETTERS. I will touch you. Then, if you
haven't already done so, read HOUSE OF LEAVES. It will mesmerize

Thank you ever so much for your time and efforts.



Reviewed by Jonathan Shipley on January 24, 2011

The Whalestoe Letters
by Mark Z. Danielewski

  • Publication Date: October 10, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 86 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon
  • ISBN-10: 0375714413
  • ISBN-13: 9780375714412