Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

“These letters, and the people who wrote them, were a lifeline for me, an antidote, a cure for the sudden stillness of the wheels under me,” (Coyote 5).

During the beginning of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Ivan Coyote found themselves grounded in Ontario after years of performing and speaking around the world. During this time, Coyote decides to respond to the many letters they have received throughout the years, the responses of which are incredibly heartfelt, intimate, and are unforgettable to read.

What’s even the point in trying to make it as a writer when Ivan Coyote exists?

I’ve only read two of Ivan Coyote’s books before this, both older works but still magnificent in their writing. I remember when I first read Coyote’s books that I was absolutely blown away by how well-written they were, and continue to be. I’ve mentioned a few times on here that when I read I want to feel something, I want the words I’m reading to elicit some sort of emotional response, something that feels like the words on the page are speaking to me. Time and time again that’s what Ivan Coyote’s words do.

The letters in these books cover a variety of topics, from parents of queer and transitioning children thankful for Coyote’s work, newly transitioning people coming out and showing their true selves at Ivan’s readings, to kid’s recognizing a part of themselves in Ivan but not always having their own words to tell them. There’s just such an intimacy to this collection. Each letter is so personal, so intimate, written with such tenderness, love, and care that it’s clear how much Ivan cares about their reader’s, that despite the number of letters they receive Coyote makes sure that each response feels special and individual.

I always find I learn something new about the queer community and identity from Coyote’s words. As a cisgender, straight, white woman, there are many things I’m not aware of or attuned to because of my privilege and, Coyote’s words often help me to be more aware of my privilege as well as more aware of the injustices the queer community faces, but also the great strength so many of the individuals in the LGBTQ* community possess.

I can already see that this is a book I’ll be returning to, most likely to read in it’s entirety, but also to just flip to a random letter and see what I can gleam from it. Care Of is such a well-written collection of correspondences and I can’t wait for what Coyote has next for their reader’s!

55829275Publication: June 8th 2021
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Pages: 256 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Owned (Thanks Rach and Tel!!!)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Queer, Trans, Essays
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤⛤⛤

Writer and performer Ivan Coyote has spent decades on the road, telling stories around the world. For years, Ivan has kept a file of the most special communications received from readers and audience members–letters, Facebook messages, emails, soggy handwritten notes tucked under the windshield wiper of their truck after a gig. Then came Spring, 2020, and, like artists everywhere, Coyote was grounded by the pandemic, all their planned events cancelled. The energy of a live audience, a performer’s lifeblood, was suddenly gone. But with this loss came an opportunity for a different kind of connection. Those letters that had long piled up could finally begin to be answered.
Care Of combines the most powerful of these letters with Ivan’s responses, creating a body of correspondence of startling intimacy, breathtaking beauty, and heartbreaking honesty and openness. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes central to Coyote’s celebrated work–compassion and empathy, family fragility, non-binary and Trans identity, and the unending beauty of simply being alive, a giant love letter to the idea of human connection, and the power of truly listening to each other.

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