postoffice_01Letter writing may be on the wane, but each week, stories turn up from around the globe on letter writing, the postal service, handwriting and other related topics, both as features and as news stories. Here is a sampling of such stories published Aug. 24 – Sept. 6.

Postal Service’s big delivery edge: no parking tickets., Sept. 6, 2014.

FedEx and UPS are unhappy at the U.S. Postal Service plan to slash prices during the holidays. The postal service already has an advantage, say the competitors: they don’t have to pay parking tickets. Illegal parking when making deliveries is inevitable in San Francisco, given limited legal parking options, and no parking tickets gives the postal service an unfair advantage.

War Reporter in Afghanistan: Writing Death Letter to My Girlfriend. Mirror (London), Sept. 4, 2014.

Stephen Paul Steward covered the war in Afghanistan for the Scottish newspaper, The Daily Record in 2009, voluntarily returning as a private in The Royal Regiment of Scotland in 2013. He recounts his experiences and emotions in his forthcoming book, The Accidental Soldier, excerpted in this news story. The title of the article refers to the farewell letter he wrote to his girlfriend, to be opened in the event of his death. Ranging from disbelief over clunky field phones that don’t work to the grief and shock of seeing his fellow soldiers fall, and eventual disillusionment over the futility of the war, his story is moving and educational about the challenges facing soldiers working in an often hostile environment.

Mailboxes to be Centralized. The Daily Reflector, Sept. 2, 2014.

Greenville, North Carolina’s local paper is the latest of many to comment on the phasing out of curbside delivery to individual mailboxes by the U.S. Postal Service in an effort to save money.

Top Postal Executive’s Visit to Vancouver Draws Protest., Sept. 2, 2014

Labor leaders lead protest against Deputy Postmaster General (DPMG) Ron Stroman in Vancouver, WA. Labor objects to cuts to postal services, including elimination of Saturday and door-to-door delivery; the projected closure of 82 mail processing facilities in Oregon and Washington; and outsourcing services to private companies, such as Staples.

John Dos Passos Defends the Talent of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The New Republic, Sept. 2, 2014.

On Feb. 17, 1941, The New Republic published an impassioned defense of the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, written by John Dos Passos shortly after the death of his fellow author. In this correspondence, Dos Passos questions the intellect and writing standards of those who made their living criticizing the works of others. The New Republic republished this piece in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication.

Open Forum: Don’t Close Canyon Post Office, by Chris Lavin. San Francisco Chronicle, Opinion, Aug. 29, 2014. The writer points out that in its Charter, the U.S. Postal Service was charged with “binding the nation together.” Rural post offices serve that purpose, providing “camaraderie, chances to catch up on gossip and news of the town.” But what the author most derides is the privatization of public resources.

The Lost Art of Letter Writing, by Eavan Boland. The New Yorker, Aug. 25, 2014.

The ratio of daylight to handwriting

Was the same as lacemaking to eyesight.

The paper was so thin it skinned air.

Read this beautiful poem in its entirety in The New Yorker.


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