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Care Of: Letters, Connections, and Cures (2021)

by Ivan Coyote

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642418,180 (4.7)1
"In the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, like every artist and creator, writer and storyteller Ivan Coyote was faced with a calendar full of cancelled shows and a heart full of questions that all rhymed with what now? To keep busy while figuring out what to write about next, Ivan began to answer the backlog of mail and correspondences that had come in while they were on the pre-pandemic road: emails, letters, direct messages on social media, soggy handwritten notes found tucked under the windshield wiper of their car after a gig, all of it. In Care Of, Coyote combines the most moving and powerful of these letters with the responses they've sent in the months since the lockdown. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes and ideas central to Coyote's beloved work as an author and storyteller--a giant love letter to the idea of human connection and the power of truly listening to each other."--… (more)
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Ivan Coyote, a stage storyteller famous for representing LGBTQ experiences especially experiences related to gender identity, responded to the instantly evaporated gigs of the 2020 pandemic by answering fanmail -- especially the substantive fanmail that they'd been putting off. They got permission to publish a subset of the correspondence in this book.

This was my first book by Ivan Coyote, and the fanmail conceit makes it a strange one to start with. Nevertheless I was impressed, and I will definitely seek their work out in more traditional forms. There's earnestness and wisdom here -- a theme throughout is the idea of elders, which is clearly something Coyote is chewing on -- and I found the storytelling format extremely powerful at expressing experiences and motivations that I usually see dryly intellectualized. It's hard for me to imagine someone being unmoved by Ivan Coyote's stories and presence; this is work that melts hearts. ( )
  pammab | Oct 16, 2022 |
what a beauty this book is. and read by ivan, it's that much better. i know i would have loved this had i read a physical copy, but hearing all of this in their voice is incredible. they are such a powerful reader. i had chills from the writing and the reading, over and over again.

i don't know how i've never read anything by them before, but this is such an excellent introduction to their writing and work. it's maybe 20 exchanges between ivan and other people who wrote them a letter or an email, usually after seeing them give a reading or a talk, and then ivan's response. it's full of beautiful, thoughtful, compassionate understanding, and it lays bare the trans and nonbinary experience for people who may not see it at all. i don't see how, after hearing these stories, that you can't understand. this is powerful, beautiful, and unfortunately necessary. almost every exchange had me in tears and all of them but one required a big pause and deep breaths after. this is so powerful.

in ivan's own words, in the acknowledgements: "...this book; this beautiful back and forth conversation of souls and stories and struggle and joy and hope that has been collected in these pages." it's exactly this. and read by ivan it is that much more. i loved every second of this book.

"I'm crying now as I type. I have worked very hard for years to not feel ashamed of my tears. To allow myself to fully feel things, to describe them, to share them, to craft them into the shape of a story. This is what I know about stories: they can tear me up on their way out of me but they rarely leave a scar."

"Thank you for reminding me again of how powerful a story can be and how much of that power is found inside of the person who is listening. And that that power to transform is not only held or handled by the heart of the one who is doing the telling." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Oct 12, 2021 |
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"In the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, like every artist and creator, writer and storyteller Ivan Coyote was faced with a calendar full of cancelled shows and a heart full of questions that all rhymed with what now? To keep busy while figuring out what to write about next, Ivan began to answer the backlog of mail and correspondences that had come in while they were on the pre-pandemic road: emails, letters, direct messages on social media, soggy handwritten notes found tucked under the windshield wiper of their car after a gig, all of it. In Care Of, Coyote combines the most moving and powerful of these letters with the responses they've sent in the months since the lockdown. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes and ideas central to Coyote's beloved work as an author and storyteller--a giant love letter to the idea of human connection and the power of truly listening to each other."--

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