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"When Letters Still Mattered”

“When Letters Still Mattered” is a 137-page autobiographical portrait by California artist Marques Vickers. Each profile candidly summarizes the effect of thirty writings and individuals that distinctly influenced his life. His early writings reveal glimpses of his immediate family relations including several humorous and touching accounts of his Alabama raised aunts, beloved grandfather and his most remembered letter from his mother recounting the separate and unexpected deaths of three acquaintances.

Drawing from his formative years correspondence, Vickers recounts the exploits of an ethically straying local minister, his close relationship with his freedom-obsessed dog and his reaction to a greeting card delivered on the morning of Christmas Day by the postman.

Subsequent chapters address his earliest failed encounters with intimacy and romance, a fortunate near-miss and his ongoing resolve to achieve equilibrium with a partner. He traces the labyrinth that defined his first marriage, initially fueled by a tenderly composed poem.

Vickers shares lessons and disappointments culled from an often dehumanizing workplace and a noble gesture of fidelity that transcended his own humiliation of being very publicly fired from a high-profile job.

The author details a twenty-year friendship with a mentor, Marshall, once a renowned public personality. Marshall had formerly managed the swank Los Angeles Coconut Grove nightclub, Las Vegas Flamingo Hotel and dated actress Marilyn Monroe during her prime. Marshall’s own fallen acclaim due to his 1950s Las Vegas association was accompanied by an admirable loyalty that he maintained until his death with formerly renowned actors, prizefighters and celebrities that had endured their own reversals of fortune. For the author, Marshall’s insight and experiences provided an enlightening glimpse of the tenuousness of fame.

Weaving through various accounts, Vickers encounters a variety of diverse personalities, acquaintances and friends, ranging from a perverse travel agent he encountered in Rio de Janeiro to a counseling therapist seeking to sort out her own passionate and wordy nature. His final chapter concerns a book inscription sent to him by painter Andrew Wyatt’s famed muse Helga Testorf as a notable gift of friendship. Her ordeal and the accompanying controversy and public condemnation she endured were overshadowed by the dignity she maintained throughout in his eyes.

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