Letters from Max

Nonfiction

Letters from Max

A Book of Friendship
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In 2012, Sarah Ruhl opened an application for a playwriting class she was teaching at Yale University: Dear Professor Ruhl, Thanks for reading this application. My name is Max Ritvo—I’m a senior English major in the Creative Writing Concentration. All I want to do is write.

Ruhl was a distinguished, two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist; Ritvo was an exuberant, opinionated, intensely curious and intensely gifted poet in remission from pediatric cancer. But after Ritvo’s illness returned that semester, the two began to trade e-mails, letters, and texts.

Over the four years that followed—as Ritvo’s health continued to decline, even as his productivity bloomed—the teacher found herself becoming first a friend, then a colleague, and finally a student. Reincarnation, the loving playfulness of postmodernism, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s exchanges, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in the spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want—is to know you forever.”

Studded with poems and songs, shimmering like stars set in the heavy blanket of the sky, Letters from Max is a deeply moving exploration of love, art, mortality, and joy.

ISBN:
978-1-57131-369-0
Publish Date: 
09/11/2018
Pages: 
240
Size: 
5.5 × 8.5 × 1 in
Weight: 
18 oz
Author

Max Ritvo (1990-2016) wrote Four Reincarnations in New York and Los Angeles over the course of a long battle with cancer. Ritvo's poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, Boston Review, and as a Poem-a-Day for Poets.org. His prose and interviews have appeared in publications such as Lit Hub, Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Review of Books

Author

Sarah Ruhl’s plays include In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee), and The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize finalist, winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), among many others. She is recipient of the MacArthur “genius” grant, and of, most recently, the 2016 Steinberg Prize. She is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama and lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Praise and Prizes

Blog Post

Milkweed Staff – 02/15/2018

Less than two years ago, Max Ritvo came into the Milkweed family like a ball of fire. We’re thrilled to...