Dear Francis,

I didn’t know him, just like I don’t know you, but I do know that you admire him and so do I.

I feel like I’ve gotten to know you though your writing and that may be a false kind of knowing, but to me it feels true.

And just like that, when he wrote, it was as if someone was writing in my language, the language that’s in my head and I know for sure that that is a real feeling because, well, because no one else I’ve read has managed that. (and because I sound like him now – maybe he put his language into me, gave me a way of speaking which was better, more truthful, honest, direct, than my own).

I knew I was going to like you when I read a piece of yours that mentioned Franny and Zooey and DFW really close together. Well, it might have been one piece or it might have been a couple of bits of writing that ended up being published near each other.

And you were in a show with a friend of mine and that made me think, in a totally illogical and frankly silly way, that we were a little closer than strangers.

I suppose too that my interest in these particular references could make me come across like some sort of winsome, amorous schoolgirl.

Anyway, this is the first death of a stranger that has had me genuinely despairing.

I meant to write you a letter before this, just as a fan I suppose, but somehow I never seemed to find a reason to get going on it.

So this is just to say, I enjoy your work and that I wish, no doubt like you, that I could read just one more essay of his on tennis or porn or grammar or generosity or common human decency.

Kind Regards,

Jane Topping

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