Cover image for Marcel's letters : a font and the search for one man's fate
Title:
Marcel's letters : a font and the search for one man's fate
ISBN:
9781510719330
Physical Description:
344 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents:
White Bear Lake, Minnesota : July 2011 -- Letter No. 1: Marienfelde, Germany : March 21 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : August 2011 -- Letter No. 2: Marienfelde, Germany : Sunday the 12th -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2011 -- Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota : 1980 to 2011 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : October 2011 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : January 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : January 2012 -- Letter No. 3: Marienfelde, Germany : November 3 (1943) -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : February 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late February 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Mid-March 2012 -- Letters No. 4 and 5: Marienfelde, Germany : February 1, 1943 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late March 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : April 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota: April 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late April 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : May 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : May 21, 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late May 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : May 25, 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : June 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : June 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late July 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : August 2012 -- Milwaukee, Wisconsin : August 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late August 2012 -- Letter No. 6: Marienfelde, Germany : January 17, 1943 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late August 2012 -- Letters No. 7, 8, 9: Marienfelde, Germany : January 18, 1943 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Late August 2012 -- Letters No. 10, 11, 12: Marienfelde, Germany : August 8 (1943) -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2012 -- Letter No. 13: Marienfelde, Germany : September 10 (1943) -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2012 -- Letter No. 14: Paris, France : Wednesday, Noon -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2012 -- Letter No. 15: Marienfelde, Germany : October 21 (1943) -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2012 -- Letters No. 16, 17: Marienfelde, Germany : May 8, 1944 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : September 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : Early October 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : October 2012 -- Paris, France : October 2012 -- Le Plessis-Robinson, France: October 27, 2012 -- Villemomble, France : October 28, 2012 -- Bercheres-La-Maingot, France : October 29, 2012 -- White Bear Lake, Minnesota : January 30, 2014.
Summary:
"A graphic designer's search for inspiration leads to a cache of letters and the mystery of one man's fate during World War II. Seeking inspiration for a new font design in an antique store in small-town Stillwater, Minnesota, graphic designer Carolyn Porter stumbled across a bundle of letters and was immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting. She could not read the letters--they were in French--but she noticed all of them had been signed by a man named Marcel and mailed from Berlin to his family in France during the middle of World War II. As Carolyn grappled with designing the font, she decided to have one of Marcel's letters translated. Reading it opened a portal to a different time, and what began as mere curiosity quickly became an obsession with finding out why the letter writer, Marcel Heuze, had been in Berlin, how his letters came to be on sale in a store halfway around the world, and, most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war. Marcel's Letters is the incredible story of Carolyn's increasingly desperate search to uncover the mystery of one man's fate during WWII, seeking answers across Germany, France, and the United States. Simultaneously, she continues to work on what would become the acclaimed P22 Marcel font, immortalizing the man and his letters that waited almost seventy years to be reunited with his family"--Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

Finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book Award
A graphic designer's search for inspiration leads to a cache of letters and the mystery of one man's fate during World War II

Seeking inspiration for a new font design in an antique store in small-town Stillwater, Minnesota, graphic designer Carolyn Porter stumbled across a bundle of letters and was immediately drawn to their beautifully expressive pen-and-ink handwriting. She could not read the letters--they were in French--but she noticed all of them had been signed by a man named Marcel and mailed from Berlin to his family in France during the middle of World War II.

As Carolyn grappled with designing the font, she decided to have one of Marcel's letters translated. Reading it opened a portal to a different time, and what began as mere curiosity quickly became an obsession with finding out why the letter writer, Marcel Heuzé, had been in Germany, how his letters came to be in a store halfway around the world, and, most importantly, whether he ever returned to his beloved wife and daughters after the war.

Marcel's Letters is the incredible story of Carolyn's increasingly desperate search to uncover the mystery of one man's fate during WWII, seeking answers across Germany, France, and the United States. Simultaneously, she continues to work on what would become the acclaimed P22 Marcel font, immortalizing the man and his letters that waited almost seventy years to be reunited with his family.


Author Notes

Carolyn Porter is a graphic designer, typography geek, and founder of the graphic design company Porterfolio. She designed the font P22 Marcel Script, which garnered five awards, including the prestigious Certificate of Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Director's Club. She lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.


Reviews 2

Kirkus Review

A graphic designer and self-described "typography geek" tells the story behind the creation of her award-winning font, P22 Marcel.On an antiquing trip in the early 2000s, Porter acquired a series of "scratchy, old, ink-on-paper" letters written in a beautiful, unique script she wanted to use as the basis for a font design. The letters, written in French, were penned by a man named Marcel and had been posted from Berlin to Marcel's family in France during World War II. But surface information about the letter writer was not enough for Porter, who would spend the next decade carefully crafting the font she would name in Marcel's honor. The more she studied the letter shapes, the more she puzzled over the context in which Marcel wrote his letters, which he always ended with a deep paternal tenderness and signed with an eye-catching flourish. She began her search online, which yielded tantalizing clues. She learned that Marcel had been one of thousands of French citizens obliged to participate in a Vichy government forced-labor program that sent them to work in German factories. This information only made Porter more desirous to know whether the man she had come to think of as "my Marcel" had survived. Enlisting the aid of translators and a genealogist, the author eventually discovered that Marcel had reunited with his wife and children. More importantly, Marcel had been able to put his time as a forced worker behind him and live a happy life. The book is most interesting for the details it offers about the process Porter used to transform script into font and the search she undertook to piece together Marcel's life story. While it is clear that the author felt a genuine connection to Marcel, consideration of why he became so personally important to her is lacking. The result is a story that obscures the reader's relationship with the narrator. A flawed but intriguing memoir from a diligent researcher. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Although Porter found the letters, perhaps they also found her. So she is told more than once by those who hear her improbable tale of a chance discovery that would consume more than a decade of her life. Porter, a graphic designer, was drawn to the handwritten letters in an antique store for their beautiful script, without understanding a word of the French writing. After years of arduous work designing a font based on those letters, in a fit of curiosity she had one of them translated. That first letter, sent from Berlin during WWII, contained a father's tender words to his young daughters, along with perplexing references to clothes that needed mending and his inability to buy a comb. It started Porter on a quest to find out what happened to its author, a man named Marcel. Porter's captivating memoir describes her journey to find answers, noting how her fascination with Marcel proved infectious as she faces obstacle after obstacle and enlists the help of experts to discover the fate that awaited him. She learns about a program that brought millions of workers to Germany to feed the war machine, the wretched conditions they faced, and how difficult it was to survive. As impressive as her detective work is, it is Marcel and his letters real, honest, heartfelt, and brave that are undoubtedly the star of this marvelous book.--Thoreson, Bridget Copyright 2010 Booklist