Internet Killed the Chain Letter Star

Am I the only person who misses chain letters?

No, not the current, “You must forward this onto 35 people for good luck, otherwise your house will be crushed by Cthulhu” spate of chain letters, or even the “tell me 25 things about yourself” series of questions (although at least the latter makes the person write something). I’m talking about the old school chain letters, where you added your name onto the bottom of a list of six people, and sent something like a recipe to the person at the top before sending the new letter out to six more people. If that chain went somehow unbroken you’d end up with over 46000 recipes, but of course the reality was never that good.

I was overjoyed, then, to recently get an old school chain letter mailed to me from a friend and former co-worker who lives up in the wilds of Wisconsin these days. It’s a much simpler chain, one with only two rungs. You send a paperback book to the person at the top, add yourself to the bottom (and do so by adding in mailing labels, which is an elegant solution so that there’s no retyping or such), and if it ends up unbroken you’d end up with 36 books in the mail.

The letter referred to it as an informal book club, and I love the idea of it. I actually spent a bit of time trying to figure out who to send my six letters to. They had to love books, of course, but I also didn’t want to send the letter to friends who knew each other, so that  it wouldn’t get stuck on the same people. (So for example, I sent it to only one person in my book club; that way he has the option to pass it along to other members.) I also tried to spread the locations out a bit; one letter went to Oakland, another to Boston, still another to Williamsburg.

Now, of course, I’m waiting to see if I get anything in the mail. How far will the chain reach? Will all six people I’ve sent it to break the chain? (Hopefully not, I tried to think of people who would be equally enamored with the idea.) If nothing else, hopefully the person I sent Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book to will love it. It’ll be fun to see what if anything arrives here. Mind you, I love getting mail that isn’t a bill or junk. So hopefully, I’ll hit the jackpot before too long.

Until then, though, I’m going to be dreaming of chain letters involving chocolate chip cookies arriving at my home. Mmmmm, cookies.

2 thoughts on “Internet Killed the Chain Letter Star

  1. bentley says:

    Many years ago, I saw a convention flyer written in the form of a chain letter. I thought it was clever. I showed it to a fannish friend without explanation. She was puzzled by it, so I explained, and as soon as I said the words “chain letter,” she threw the paper away from her as if it were the plague and wouldn’t listen to anything else. Weird.

  2. Maybe she was afraid of breaking the chain? Hee hee hee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *