by Leland Duvall
edited by Ernie Dumas
University of Arkansas Press, 2011
Cloth: 978-1-55728-976-6 | eISBN: 978-1-61075-492-7
Library of Congress Classification D811.D875 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 940.541273092

Leland Duvall was a now-and-again farm worker with a grade-school education when he received his World War II draft notice at his father's farm near Moreland, Arkansas, in March of 1942. He departed for training in California, where he began to write to Letty Jones, a Pottsville girl he'd had a crush on for several years. From the first correspondence through the end of the war, Leland sent Letty a torrent of letters, hundreds of careful and undeniably heartfelt missives-utterly tender but never sentimental, reliably charming and gently humorous-written daily from desert sands, pup tents, hospital beds, armored cars, and bombed-out buildings. That Duvall's writing is a tour de force of wit, elegance, and erudition is all the more poignant because he was a man who was almost entirely self-taught. The letters, discovered by Duvall's daughter four years after his death in 2010, are here enriched by his longtime friend and colleague Ernie Dumas, who provides facts about where Duvall was and the perils he endured while penning his epistles, information that was often missing in dispatches that were necessarily censored and always guided by Duvall's effort not to bore or worry his "dearest Letty." Duvall's lively intelligence and obvious joy in writing come through on every page, joining with vividness the patina of the time and the bright shine of a timeless love affair.