More Like Brevity Or Bust

The oth­er day I opened up an old issue of The Paris Review to a poem by Eliz­a­beth Nei­ditz, That I was not Insane, or Worse.

The end­ing lines sound­ed familiar:

And my father, a mas­ter of the two-line letter

And the fifty-six sec­ond phone call,

Liked to say that “brevi­ty is the spice of life.”

My father, to my knowl­edge, nev­er said “brevi­ty is the spice of life”, but he was a mas­ter of the two-line let­ter and the fifty-six sec­ond phone call. My only expo­sure to his let­ter writ­ing was the notes he includ­ed with the checks he sent when I was in col­lege, the full text of which was some­thing like “I know you need this so I won’t waste time writ­ing much. Love, Dad”

The phone call was not real­ly fifty-six sec­onds because Mom would talk longer, but Dad would come on to say hi. Fifty-six sec­onds would have been a long time on the phone with Dad.

I have no idea why con­ver­sa­tions with Dad were inher­ent­ly brief, but a pos­si­bil­i­ty for the brief let­ters occurs to me. Dad was an excel­lent attor­ney. I have been told that a big rea­son for that was his thor­ough­ness. He cov­ered all the details. I sus­pect that this was not a dif­fi­cult skill to learn for him, that he had a nat­ur­al instinct to be thor­ough. The let­ters had to be brief, since any expan­sive­ness would then require a detail or two to be cov­ered. Much sim­pler to keep it down to the bare bones.

Then again, maybe he was just busy.

I know as I blog that my goal is to always be brief. Most­ly because I do not like blogs that con­sis­tent­ly have long posts. I can’t believe I am the only one who feels that way. But my efforts to be brief are con­stant­ly frus­trat­ed by the desire to explain a bit more.

If this PDF (4.06 MB) is rel­e­vant (and I believe it is), then Eliz­a­beth Nei­ditz is now Eliz­a­beth Bene­dict.

I must con­fess that for all of Dad’s brevi­ty in let­ters, I make him look like Dick­ens in com­par­i­son. I have writ­ten too few let­ters in my lifetime.

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