Rating: 4.25 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Anthology

This collection of micro essays chronicles the flings, romances, and loves of author Alan Semrow. The essays are formed like impromptu letters to the narrator’s former lovers. Each one has a title reminiscent of “Dear John,” but captures some facet of what Semrow shared with his partner. Some entries are purely about the physical, but others explore somewhat deeper connections There are a number of people who have sailed in and out of the author’s life, and while some of these connections may be fleeting, they are no less poignant. 

For me, I really enjoyed reading this prolific series of intimate letter-essays. With every new letter, we get to relive the rush of attraction and passion, while also learning a bit about the author and his object of desire. That said, there is little to bind this collection together beyond that theme of acknowledging all one’s previous lovers. By the end of the collection, the entries did start to feel a bit stale with the repetition—such is the nature of writing letters to one-night-stand type connections or friends-with-benefits-when-you-happen-to-be-in-town type of thing. Without more curation of the letters, the reader is sort of adrift in a sea of spent emotion with no land in sight.

On the other hand, repeating the same theme of fleeting romance let me focus in on the words. A few phrases stuck out as fantastic examples of the passion Semrow was trying to capture, e.g. “fuck like volcanoes.” There is a small “cast” of side characters that cropped up, too, which gave a smidge of consistency, a hint of a world outside bars and bedrooms. However, without any names to mark who is who and a truly ponderous number of “Dear XXX” entries, I felt rather detached from the author. By way of example, a man with a “southern drawl” is mentioned twice, but I have no idea if this is actually the same man re-appearing in the narrator’s life. This is a memoir of the author’s own experiences, but there is nothing to visually mark it as such unless you’ve read the blurb or the ending acknowledgements.

On the whole, I enjoyed this exploration of short-term romantic connections. The multitude of discrete letters and ambiguous narration leaves the interpretation fairly wide open, but there are some hints that help guide the reader’s understanding. If you like epistolary style works, you may enjoy this despite the repetitive content.