Yesterday’s Salad: Acting out our Defense of the Epistolary Genre
October 17, 2007
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following text was sent to me by L.P. Mandrake. Although I will say a few words of my own, I have decided to give him credit for the entire post as he is a) one of the finest humourists of our time and I hope to carpetbag on his success; b) trapped in a pre-modern economy and well in need of the bushel of wheat that all YS contributers receive for their efforts; and c) I hope the outpouring of support this column no doubt engenders will convince Mr. Mandrake to return to the fold sooner (re:now) rather than later (upon the ascension of George P. Bush to the presidency).
With the first of these letters, Mandrake has shown himself to be a first class epistolarian (A letter-writer; although it is unclear whether or not the adjectival meaning “Addicted to or occupied in letter-writing” applies), or epistoler, or epsitler, or epistolist (rare); all are recognized forms. Actually, “epistle” is probably one of the more productive roots in the English language (surely a gross exaggeration), as almost everything has been added to it. One can epistolize, although one would hope that the subject of the letter would be epistolizable. But sadly, one can no longer “epistle-v” which, as expected, mean
st “To write (something) in a letter.” It’s earliest meaning, however is “To write as a preface or introduction,” now obsolete. This is derived from the also obsolete noun sense of “A preface or letter of dedication addressed to a patron, or to the reader, at the beginning of a literary work.” So even though I have epistled, it is sadly no longer correct in saying so (though it surely sounds uncouth).
The Iowa sunrise spreads itself across the land; cornfields as far as the eye can see. I am driving along a vacant country highway when what should come on my stereo, but Reagan’s new patriotism anthem: Born in the USA. As the song hits its stride, I see across the road a pathetic figure. A man, his jeans and sweatshirt sun-bleached to the same color, sticks his thumb out. Is this man a veteran? Is he the out of place soldier that Springsteen sings of? I pass him by, as so many have before, but mostly because he was heading the opposite direction of me. A large truck zooms past, blocking the man from sight with it’s piles of corn husks, no doubt on their way to be processed into that colorless gold: ethanol. I turn my gaze back onto the open road and I notice a gigantic American flag proudly rippling in the middle of an empty cornfield. At the base of the pole is a crudely painted handmade sign. This one–shockingly–had everything spelled correctly, but still exuded the rage of the common man nonetheless. The words slathered on that sign? “There’s a special place in hell for DEADBEAT MOMS.”
And that’s when I know that I am in America after all.