NEW YORK: The latest round of raves for Mary-Louise Parker is not for her acting, but for her writing.
Parker’s “Dear Mr. You,” a collection of lyrical and often emotional essays about men addressed to everyone from former (and unnamed) lovers to family members, NASA and a Sept. 11 firefighter, has been highly praised by critics.
Essayist Leslie Jamison, memoir writer Mary Karr and poet Kevin Young are among those who have appeared with her during her promotional tour.
Parker is a prize-winning actress who has never wanted to be treated like a celebrity, or like a celebrity author. “Dear Mr. You” was originally submitted to publishers with her name withheld by literary agent Eric Simonoff, whose clients include Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writers Jhumpa Lahiri and Edward P. Jones.
She is an admirer of poets Mark Strand and Philip Levine among others, and of short story writers Lorrie Moore and Deborah Eisenberg. But highest honors are reserved for her late father, John Morgan Parker, a veteran of World War II and the Korean War who later worked as a bank manager and a justice of the peace among other jobs and took “nearly freakish” pride in his children and grandchildren. In “Dear Mr. You,” Parker calls him the “wizard of all fathers” and remembers his advice to her soon before his death, in 2010: “Just write, keep writing, promise that you will.”