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Feliz Lucia Molina, Ben Segal, & Brett Zehner

Feliz Lucia Molina was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. A Kundiman and MacDowell Colony Fellow, she holds a BA from Naropa University, an MFA from Brown University, and is a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School. She is an editor at Continent and lives in Los Angeles.

Blurbs

"Writing into the sand hole that is 'Wes Anderson,' three friends write their way almost to the limit of their engagingly ambivalent and indisputably brilliant personalities, thereby calling into question the certainty of anything. Follow their quest to the Fin/n/ish line! A gripping read."

– Chris Kraus

"THE WES LETTERS seems destined to find its place among other recent classics of the epistolary novel narrated by smart, anxious, and questing narrators. . . but its triangular structure is all its own, as are its particular obsessions: transference, celebrity, friendship, changing technologies of writing, and the various relations - be they pained, productive, or pleasurable - between performativity and 'something like honesty,' if not honesty itself."

– Maggie Nelson

"Dear Wes Anderson - Each film you make is a secret letter to the viewer, and each letter in THE WES LETTERS is a secret view into you. These letters are innovations of you, the authors' lives chronicled through apostrophe, radiant stylistic gymnastics, philosophies in flight - these letters are relentless and resplendent. You won't regret reading this book, Wes Anderson, it's hardly about you at all."

– Lily Hoang

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Featured Book

The Wes Letters

"a fascinating study into the mindsets of a few fans"

11/06/14

In the world of contemporary filmmaking, visionary auteur Wes Anderson is in a class all his own. The man behind several remarkable works of art, including The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, Moonrise Kingdom, and this year’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, his films exude a wholly idiosyncratic and damn near inimitable blend of storytelling, characterization, direction, design, and dialogue, capturing the subtleties of the human condition via dry humor and colorful imagery. It’s fair to say that no one makes movies quite like him, and like most complex artists, he has gathered a significant following over the years. Naturally, his supporters would love nothing more than to engage in revealing conversations with him, which is exactly what The Wes Letters looks at in depth—or, at least that’s what the three authors of the collection think they’re doing. Really, it’s a fascinating study into the mindsets of a few fans whose obsession, delusion, and unwavering affection for their idol blur the line between charming admiration and narcissistic, sociopathic devotion.

As the book’s description states, The Wes Letters is “an epistolary novel written from three friends to the elusive Wes Anderson. . . . it’s about personal memory, it’s about gossip and philosophy, and it’s about pop culture and late capitalism. It’s (not) about Wes Anderson.” This synopsis is surprisingly accurate, as the compilation’s three authors (Feliz Lucia Molina, Ben Segal, and Brett Zehner, whose interpersonal relationships are as mysterious as anything else they discuss) use their subject as merely a catalyst for their own subtly vulnerable confessions and wildly eccentric, nonsensical musings. Through the guise of a “connection” to Wes Anderson, they explore a plethora of secrets, ambitions, and imaginative non sequiturs that infer a lack of mental and emotional stability. As is usual with celebrity fixations, these “protagonists” project their own neuroses onto him, using their “bond” as a platform through which they can expel, rationalize, and dismiss what affects them most. In this way, Wes Anderson himself doesn’t really matter in the context of the device; the trio just needs someone to latch onto.

Interestingly, this narrative structure feels akin to an Anderson-esque plot. Essentially, it tracks the individual paths of the group as they try to understand the challenges and opportunities of their lives, which include haphazard romances, bizarre encounters, and plenty of traveling. They often comment on each other’s motivations and thoughts, instructing Anderson to disregard, sympathize, or simply try to understand what the other person meant with his or her letters. Sometimes they even mention letters they meant to write but wound up discarding, which is odd yet strangely revealing about their psyche.

This perceived attachment is evident even from the opening letter, in which Feliz recounts how Brett [apparently] met Anderson on a train. She writes:

Dear Wes Anderson

I heard you took the train from Chicago to southern California. I thought it was kind of cute to hear you don’t like airplanes. They scare me too. . . . I showed [Brett] ‘I Love Dick’ by Chris Kraus. . . . Why am I telling you this? It just feels like a place to begin, in this letter. . . . So let me start over. When do you think those high-speed rail trains are going to happen in California? Anyways, I should probably get the day moving. My rabbit is out of hay and water. Ben is out being a graduate student. . . . If I close my eyes and imagine what you’re doing now all I see is darkness. I can’t imagine you, just that image of you and Brett on the train eating dinner and him sincerely not recognizing you at all. So when he told us the story it felt like we were there too.

Although there’s nothing overtly threatening or illogical about this first message, it does reveal how Feliz is already acting somewhat delusional and narcissistic, as she speaks to Anderson with unjustified familiarity. This passage also demonstrates how unfocused these writers are at times; they jump from topic to topic without warning or need, all the while acting as if Anderson is totally on board for the ride.

For the most part, The Wes Letters continues in this style, and just about every letter could be analyzed for its [lack of] relevancy to Anderson, which in turn demonstrates more and more about the writers’ troubles, priorities, and pent up issues. While we’re never quite sure how serious they are with their requests, responses, and reactions, they border on being stalkers far too often. For instance, a bit further into the pseudo-story, Ben alludes to a closeness that is definitely not there:

Dear Wes Anderson,

We were wondering if you might want us to watch your house for you some time when you’re away. . . . the point is that we’d be really good at this job. . . . we can get you references. Plus you know we’re trustworthy since we basically tell you everything. Also, I promise I won’t steal your toothbrushes. I know I asked you about what if I did, but that was just a hypothetical. I might hide little notes to you in the drop-ceiling if you have one, or in other places you aren’t likely to go. They wouldn’t be bad notes, though. They’d be jokes probably. . . .

Another set of letters starts off with the following confessions:

Dear Wes,

I have no desire to write to you. You don’t have to tolerate me not wanting to write to you, but it feels like you’ve already locked me into this trap. I have this urge to paint the whole apartment. I wish you could come over and help.

Dear Wes,

Just real quick I wanted to say I miss you. . . . I might start imagining things more, like your head covered in birds, your lawn as a field of tentacles, me and you in the backyard scene from ‘Honey I Shrunk the Kids.’

Dear Wes,

I’m sorry I don’t want to make love to you. Things would be so much easier if I did. I’m pretty sure none of us want to be with you in that way, at least not publically or enough to even admit it to each other. And we’re all pretty close, so we’d probably admit it. What I’m saying is that these aren’t those kinds of crazed-slash-obsessive fan letters.

Again, this entire anthology is one sided; Anderson never responds to them, so it’s fascinating to see the meta ramifications of their self-referential commentary. They acknowledge their own compulsive, creepy behavior, yet they continue with it. In a way, that tendency makes their deepest psychological issues more unnerving.

Furthermore, their paths eventually draw closer as the novel comes to a conclusion, so it makes sense that their final entry is a joint letter, during which they discuss possibilities for Anderson’s next film. In fact, the beginning contains Ellis-esque levels of existential crisis:

Dear Wes,

You’ve disappeared. We disappeared too. We wanted to tie back into you, but we’re not finding ourselves up to it.

Believe me, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this book entails. The Wes Letters is a captivating—if purposefully confusing at times—venture into the minds of three personalities who seem to invest their entire selves into a relationship with a man they’ve never met. It’s never overtly sinister or preposterous; rather, each exchange contains subtly substantial details about what makes these writers tick, as well as how quickly fandom can escalate from mere esteem to pitiful fantasy. While I admit that my interpretation could be wrong, I stand by it, and thus I find The Wes Letters to be an extremely involving, profound, and generally brilliant character study.

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