From the Crap Archives: Letters to E.T.


Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.

Letters to E.T.
Authors: Sad kids who never learned their lesson from all those unanswered letters to God.

Publisher: Weekly Reader Books

Date: 1983

Discovered at: Thrift store

The Cover Promises: On Sunday mornings, E.T. slips into his lover’s favorite shirt and lounges with the Sunday Times and a stack of fan mail.

Representative Quotes: From Jonah: “I liked when you were riding on the bike, and thanks for not dying.”

From Kirk: “I am a 13 year old boy who used to be closed off to the world. I didn’t care about grades, I just didn’t care that much about life. About the only things I did care about was God, Drawing, and if my D&D character could get passed 3rd level.”

Composed by troubled kids, lonely retirees and maybe a prisoner or two, the correspondence collected in Letters to E.T. does much more than just remind us how much more personal a letter feels than a mere phone call home. It shows us that, for an alienated society not yet distracted by the Internet, penning letters to a fictional, sack-of-potatoes alien became, briefly, a sort of secular prayer — an attempt to commune with something grander and more mysterious than our workaday world.

Stranger still, it demonstrates that if you just have enough faith — and if some bean counter determines that the publication of a cash-in book of crazy mail seems likely to recoup its cost — that fictional, sack-of-potatoes alien might acknowledge you.

Some letters are heartbreaking.

Some are packed with misinformation.

Some thoughts demand to be written in letter form. Imagine trying to express the following out loud. Or to a living creature. Or through a Speak-and-Spell pointed to the heavens.

Some writers, like Reabe, address their letters to famous non-fiction person Steven Spielberg. Most flatter him. Michael insists that Raiders of the Lost Ark should have won Best Picture. Others testify to the the success of his early experiment in product placement by going on about Reese’s Pieces.

The entrepreneurial Stephanie can no longer see white space without imagining advertisements.

For some, words alone can’t capture the feelings E.T. rouses. Doug Short has captured a noble friendship.

NOTE: E.T. Is in the middle of saying “Don’t go there, sister!”

Here, a child has immortalized Spielberg’s penchant for enormous, self-aggrandizing belt buckles.

And here E.T. throws gang signs with his pals in Oasis.

Highlight: In Spielberg’s introduction — itself written, bizarrely, as a letter to E.T. — the beloved director acknowledges the devotion of his alien’s fans. Then he finds the most polite way possible to announce he’s planning to throw this book away.