Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship

In 2012, Sarah Ruhl was a distinguished author and playwright, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Max Ritvo, a student in her playwriting class at Yale University, was an exuberant, opinionated, and highly gifted poet. He was also in remission from pediatric cancer.

Over the next four years—in which Ritvo’s illness returned and his health declined, even as his productivity bloomed—the two exchanged letters that spark with urgency, humor, and the desire for connection. Reincarnation, books, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s correspondence, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in a spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want—is to know you forever.”

Studded with poems and songs, Letters from Max is a deeply moving portrait of a friendship, and a shimmering exploration of love, art, mortality, and the afterlife co-authored by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo.

Book Signings and Events

Tuesday, September 11 - Join Sarah Ruhl for a special publication-date reading and signing of Letters from Max: A Book of Friendship alongside Beth Henley at the Samuel French Theatre and Film Bookshop in Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, September 16 - Brooklyn Book Festival signing at Theatre Communications Group Table #231

Monday, September 17 - Sarah Ruhl in conversation with Timothy Donnelly about her book Letters from Max at Books are Magic in Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, September 20 - Join Sarah alongside Mary-Louise Parker in the Rare Book Room at The Strand in NYC as she shares stories from Letters from Max.

Tuesday, October 16 - Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago with Jessica Thebus at 7:00pm

Wednesday, October 17 - Bookends & Beginnings in Chicago at 6:00pm

Monday, October 29 - Yale Bookstore in New Haven, CT at 6:00pm

Sunday, November 10 - Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati at 2:00pm


100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater*

*Please consider these essays as starting points. Consider them starting points for someone else to finish.

These essays were written over a period of about five years, a period in which I also gave birth to three babies. In a way these essays were my best defense against the vaporous lack of memory that comes with very little sleep. As an exercise, I would see, if I happened to have had a thought in the morning, if I could hold it, and write it down by nightfall, after the kids had gone to sleep. Those thoughts, held fast against sleeplessness and various other forms of domestic chaos, became this collection of short essays.

In an episode of the podcast The Catapult, Sarah reads from her collection of essays 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater. Click here to listen or download from iTunes.

Sarah's poems “Summer, Rhode Island,” “Miscarriage,” and “I Wanted Music” have now been published in Narrative Magazine.


Read a randomly selected essay  


100 ESSAYS... was selected as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2014 by the New York Times.

Now available for purchase at

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An audio recording of Max Ritvo, beloved former student and friend, introducing me at a poetry reading
Max Poetry Reading