Book review: Four Letter Word

After joining my new local library the other day, I was perusing their shelves when a book caught my eye. I’ve been craving a quick read that really engrosses me for a while, to break up some non-fiction I’ve been attempting.

Always having been a fan of books of letters, Four Letter Word grabbed my attention. Names including Audrey Niffenegger, Jeanette Winterson and Lionel Shriver were displayed on the front as contributing authors, so I thought it was a safe bet for a casually enjoyable book.

Four Letter WordThe editors of Four Letter Word had asked authors to write a fictional love letter to make up the book, so that’s what I was expecting. Not the most riveting writing or compulsive reading in the world, but something easy to pick up and get through. That’s the last time I’ll assume I’ll know roughly what the contents of a book will be.

Although all true to the subject, the love letters contained within were far from the regular cries of passion and lust history has taught us to expect. Inside, amongst others, was a letter from Bigfoot to Santa, which was one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time, and a letter from a child to their school teacher, asking them to visit him because his dad would no longer allow him to attend school since killing his mum and storing her body in the basement. Not exactly top notch romance, but thrilling nonetheless.

Amongst the more ‘normal’ love letters were letters of apology and regret. Unrequited love is another topic which comes across as raw feeling in this book. The suffering of two characters, both in relationships they cannot find happiness in, after meeting one another and discovering an immediate bond without being able to act upon it, provided a surprisingly distressing read. As was the letter from a man so in love with a perfect stranger that he turned the energy of his attraction to infatuation and began creeping into her bedroom at night, though this was distressing from a rather different angle.

I like books that surprise me, and this one certainly did that. I would heavily recommend Four Letter Word to anyone, because the huge variety of writing and content will be able to find a place in anyone’s mind.

Have you read a book that turned out wildly different from your expectations lately?

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