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Stocking Stuffer: ‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker


A wonderfully unconventional literary debut from the award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker. An extraordinary literary work, Dear Mr. You renders the singular arc of a woman’s life through letters Mary-Louise Parker composes to the men, real and hypothetical, who have informed the person she is today. Beginning with the grandfather she never knew the letters range from a missive to the beloved priest from her childhood to remembrances of former lovers to an homage to a firefighter she encountered to a heartfelt communication with the uncle of the infant daughter she adopted. Readers will be amazed by the depth and style of these letters, which reveal the complexity and power to be found in relationships both loving and fraught.


‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker came to me this year when I have been wading through father stuff. It’s funny how that happens – just when you least expect it.

My dad was ill earlier this year and after years of avoiding I had to face some hard facts – he was aging. I had to put aside the grief of what could have been in my youth and as an adult woman add another ball in the air when I already felt like I was drowning.  This all came to be with next to nothing of a relationship with him.

It’s not been easy – it’s been awful. I have felt like I have aged.  But the bottom line is, as someone said to me just a few hours ago, ‘You’re a good daughter.’  Am I?  I don’t know if I’m ‘good’ or if I’m just doing what a daughter should be doing for her father in ill health and is well into his senior years.’

These days it feels quieter and less arduous. Time has passed and healing was accelerated.  I have so many thoughts.  So many things I want to say to him.  But I am scared shitless.

Dear Lifeline,

I remember your voice that night. You were so sane and male, and I needed a man’s voice.  You said two things, you said “you need to lay off yourself, just for a day, can you do that?” I said maybe, I’ll try and you said, yes try.  Then you said to do you a favor and write down some things that are good and send them to you.  You said you did that every morning before you got out of bed, you’d lie there, “clearing the cobwebs out” and ridding yourself of grudges.  Ending wars you were ready to fight, mostly against yourself.  I said how come some people do this to themselves and you said hey, I get halfway through every day and I want to blow my fuckin brains out.  I want to drive off a bridge.  I can taste the bitterness when it seeps across my tongue, making me feel dry and unlucky.  I’m telling you, you said, I just want to break something, but then I ask myself

What can I do? How can I be of service to someone or this moment, what can I do to help?

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker is an eye opener of a book. It washed over me as I was beginning to make peace with my own turmoil.  As I read Parker’s book – memories flooded back demonstrating to me that it wasn’t all bad.  There were warm days, laughter, good learning, time to practice my voice and genuine snapshots of love.  Instead of me wallowing in the muck, I need to lie out on the grass and soak up the sun some times.

Dear Future Man Who Loves My Daughter,

First of all, show up a bit late. It may be better if she’s seen a little of the opposite of you, and relaxes in your arms only once she realizes you don’t have a gruesome face hiding under the one you first showed her.

Do not have another face hiding. Yeah.  I really would not.

Swoop in late, but not so late that she doesn’t trust it when you say you want to make her drunk on happiness.

Make her drunk on happy.

Make her unhappy. Put yourself first.  Do that awhile.  Do it long enough so that she suffers?  When she is done with that suffering, which will only make her more compassionate, watch as she rises up like the sea’s last wave and crushes you with her silence.  Notice how that silence moves in on you as she speaks, telling you that she’s had enough and you have to change.  You will see her mouth moving and recognize the words falling out and forming sentences that mean “Quit moment or I will quite you,” but the quiet that continues to threaten with staying forever if you don’t comply?  That is so much louder than her words.  She will not be crying or begging.  She will realize she is powerful and perfect alone and that she doesn’t need you.  Her commitment to those words will terrify you.  You will change for her because you realize no one is more worthy of changing for.

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker’s tiny letters will keep you satiated and will remind you of those men in your life that made you and broke you. It’s not a book just about lovers – but rather a book that encompasses fleeting relationships, yet to be birthed ones, non-existent ones,  dalliances that could have been and breaths full of intention.

‘Dear Mr. You’ By Mary -Louise Parker is the perfect stocking stuffer for that special person in your life. Let’s look at 2016 as the year we embrace the men in our life.