Books Perspective The Tattoo Theater

Paying respects to Arthur Miller

This is a letter written soon after the death of writer Arthur Miller.

Dear Mr. Miller,

I once read that the written word can surpass all boundaries.

Now, I don’t know if that’s exactly true, but it is with this frame of mind that I begin this letter. I hope you’re able to read this, Mr. Miller; wherever you are; whether it be the golden gates of heaven or the fiery pit of hell; or anything in between.

I was not your average kid growing up, Mr. Miller. By the fifth grade I had read most of the classics of American literature.

The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, 1984, and The Lord of the Flies had all been the fairytales that tucked me into bed at night. I absorbed the written word with enthusiasm, eager and wanting to understand the world through the experiences of others.

The library had become my escape, my passageway into the real world; no matter how cliché that sounds, it’s true.

One Saturday I wandered the aisles of the library, my hands grazing the spines of the books, some old and dusty, their covers brown with gold lettering and yellowed pages; others new with pages crisp and unread.

My tradition was to walk through the aisles, touching the books until I had the feeling in my heart that the book I was touching was right; and was perfect for me at that time. This method had never proven wrong and had taken me on numerous journeys of the imagination.

That particular Saturday it was taking me longer then usual to find the book that spoke to me. That was until I walked down the M aisle.

Halfway through I felt it, that sensation of adventure waiting for me between the pages of a book.

I pulled the book blindly from the shelf and glanced at the cover. “Death Of a Salesman” it read in large, gold letters. The book itself was small and thin, yellowed by years of sitting on the shelf.

I had the rest of the afternoon free, so I sat down right there and began the story.

Within five minutes I was entranced, and finished the play during the next hour.

In that short time I was changed. The play taught me more about real people and real life than any other work of fiction could do.

In a way, I believed the story was real and the characters lived and breathed like I did.

So for that I say thank you, Mr. Miller; thank you for showing me reality, for showing me life.

— Zach Brokenrope

Zach Brokenrope is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International

Arthur Miller, New Haven, Connecticut, 1994 (YJI)