The introduction by Welty friend and biographer Suzanne Marrs, who edited this collection, sets the loveliest tone about friendship and discoveries that friends want to share with each other over the years about their own writing, each other's writing, books, roses, the places they travel. Marrs also begins by quoting Welty's own introduction to the famed Norton Book of Friendship. It brings to mind long-lasting friendships formed online, where we put ideas, hopes, dreams and disappointments into words to each other every day:
All letters, old and now, are the still-existing parts of a life. To read them now is to be present when some discovery of truth -- or perhaps untruth, some flash of light -- is just occurring. ... To come upon a personal truth of a human being, however little known, and now gone forever, is in some way to admit him to our friendship.
Also enjoyable is Marrs's knowledge about the work of both writers, as when she notes both were not fans of being pigeonholded by genre. She quotes Welty regarding how she wrote about the characters in The Golden Apples "to take up these people whenever and wherever in their lives that might interest me". As Marrs astutely notes, Welty "preferred the irresolution of experience to the tying of bows". If only more writers trusted themselves to chronicle experience and its results rather than worry about tying a bow to close Act III. Life is arbitrary and fiction an even more arbitrary narrative imposed on the human condition. If a resolution is forced, then untie that bow.
Welty, Maxwell and Marrs do other people's fiction the honor of taking it on its own terms. Marrs, in her explanation at the end of the introduction of her editorial changes, demonstrates she thoroughly understands the art of making editorial choices that benefit the reader while shining an unharsh light of authenthcity on her subjects. As Maxwell noted about a review Welty wrote of J.D Salinger's Nine Stories for the New York Times Book Review in 1953: "Like the best reviews it was within rather than outside the stories themselves."
Although only still in the early going of the collected letters, it is apparent that the writers celebrated and the editor of their correspondence all are within the stories, within the letters and so within the captured moments of life.