Mary-Louise Parker •
Dear Mr. You •
If you think Mary-Louise Parker’s acting is good, wait til you see her writing. On every page of this juicy, big-hearted book you’ll find the same qualities that make her captivating on a screen. Parker is deeply engaged in the business of living, its messes and confusions and delirious joys, and it shows.
Dear Mr. You is a collection of letters to the males who have been significant in her life. She writes to relatives, an ex-lover, a rock star, NASA, a priest, the husband of a friend. There is gratitude, unfinished business, explanation, and eulogy—not to mention an uproarious account of how she came to be involved in castrating a goat. (It was to spare the ravaged she-goats, who were licking their “ladytown privates” and “looking like they’d give up their feed ration for a tube of Vagisil.”)
“Dear Orderly” spells out Parker’s adamant refusal to let her newborn baby be taken to the hospital nursery. She is incoherent with exhaustion and readily admits, “I may put a fresh spin on ruinous parenting,” but her son will not be spending “a lonely and sucky first night on earth.” Not if she can help it.
The book begins and ends with Parker’s father, who survived a forced march in the Philippines during World War II despite the bullet in his leg. “This is your family I am running here,” she reminds him. “I can’t take credit for more than remembering to point to you when I do something right and for continuing to put one foot in front of the other when I lose heart. We all miss you something fierce, those of us who wouldn’t exist had you not kept walking when an ordinary person would have fallen to his knees.”