Mary-Louise Parker is the author of Dear Mr. You, a collection of letters to the men in her life. She is also a Tony-, Emmy-, Obie-, and Golden Globe–winning actor, and has appeared on screen in Weeds, The West Wing, and Angels in America, and onstage in Proof. From her Q&A with Margo Rabb at Slate:
One deeply moving aspect of your book is how you write about the loss of your father. The last letter in the book, “Dear Oyster Picker,” is written to the anonymous man who picked the oysters for your father’s last meal. How did that letter evolve?--Marshal Zeringue
I think that last letter is the point of the whole book. It’s about a man I’ve never met, yet I felt so grateful toward him. I started reading all these facts about oyster pickers, and I had no idea what they go through. It wasn’t just a literary device—I really do envision this person, and the fantasy of him helped me make sense of life a little bit. The metaphor is that we’re all somehow working for each other in tiny ways, without knowing it.
Motherhood is a significant part of your book as well. You write that after having children, “Romantic love felt silly by comparison.” How did becoming a mother change you?
I wanted to be a mother my whole life, and there are so many fantasies of motherhood I’ve had that have come true—filling...[read on]