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Talking on Paper

An Anthology of Oregon Letters and Diaries

Shannon Applegate and Terence O'Donnell

Illustrated with art by Oregon artists.

Oregon Literature Series

7 × 10 inches. Bibliography. Index. 352 pages.

1994. ISBN 978-0-87071-378-1. Paperback, $24.95.

1994. ISBN 978-0-87071-377-4. Hardcover, $39.95.

Contributors to this anthology of Oregon letters and diaries include a missionary and a gambler, a prosoner and a judge, a clown and a civil servant, a housewife and a homesteader, a cowboy, a schoolgirl, a nun, and many others. Few would consider themselves writers. Yet all took the time to commit words to paper, providing us today with a unique sense of their lives and times.

Letters and diaries are among the most intimate of literary expressions. Seldom written for an intended audience of more than one (if that), they provide a private forum for feelings, concerns, and interests. Yet letters and diaries also benefit a wider audience. They afford us a special knowledge of the past, for they are commonly filled with the concrete details of everyday life, details which biography and history tend to disregard. A summer holiday, fur trapping, a sea voyage, courtship and war, travel and homesteading, the Depression, the Japanese internment, hope despair, and joy--the writings collected in Talking on Paper bring an impressive immediacy to these experiences.

In gathering material for this book, the editors traveled thousands of miles and researched thousands of documents. Selections span a period of a century and a half and reflect the wide cultural and ethnic diversity of Oregon. From the lyric-laced diaries of Greek emigrant and itinerant railroad worker Haralambos Kambouris to the poignant letter by 10-year-old Julia Wilson of Mitchell describing the loss of her family in a flash flood, these private expressions of literacy and imagination reveal an intimate aspect of Oregon literature.

Member of AAUP