Letters to the Editor

An outpouring of fond farewells for Anne Lamott; readers weigh merits of "Monsters of Grace"; questioning the Kennedy legacy (and others).

Published July 29, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

Y'all take care now



I was sad when I clicked on Anne Lamott's column this morning, and
learned that she's taking a break to begin work on a new novel. I often find myself both tear-stained and suck-out-loud laughing when reading
Anne's work. Have come to trust Anne's writer's voice, probably because
there's enough of a narcissist in me to like the fact that she sounds so
much like me and my sisters and many of my friends: relatively privileged
to have food and shelter and other goodies in life mostly available as
givens, but sometimes really tired and taxed and discouraged, and yet still
sometimes truly wise. Or at least capable of putting on a good front.

-- Jan Brown

Cambridge, Mass.

I eagerly wake up every other Thursday and immediately turn on my computer to
read Anne Lamott's column. So I was quite surprised
to find out she is leaving to write a novel. Please tell me it was all a mistake and she will not leave me! I will miss her column, and wish her the best of luck, and look forward
to her next novel. What other choice do I have? Goodbye, Anne. We'll miss you dearly.

-- Patty Ferguson

Redding, Calif.

I am just the tiniest bit annoyed with Anne Lamott for deciding not to
write any more columns. Some of us have come to depend on her columns,
like a sober alcoholic needs to talk to another sober alcoholic. Her
books are wonderful, but we need more steady and
constant doses of the woman. We see no reason why she can't take care of
all of us, all the time.

I exaggerate, of course. I am a single mom, about her age, with children
near her son's age, and a writer too, so I know how swamped she is.
But that's the very reason we need her columns. As long
as Lamott understands that she has established a dependency here,
and that she's pulling the rug out from under some of us, and is made to
feel good and guilty about it, we'll be satisfied.

Maybe she could just e-mail all of us once in a while, or drop in for
coffee, or something.

-- Yvonne Sadler

Monsters of grace


Glad to see I'm not the only one who thought the visuals were a bit "lost."
Banal images accompanying a Philip Glass score borders on irony. When will Robert Wilson
work with Steve Reich? He is the one composer who excels at transforming
repetition into revelation.

It is difficult for Midwesterners to see these types of works, but I have
seen Wilson's Knee Plays; there was no comparison. Byrne's score
emphasized the natural humor and stylized history present in the "Knee
Plays." The laughter I heard when I saw "Monsters of Grace," however, was the nervous
product of an audience desperate to find meaning in a static presentation
of tired imagery.

-- Mark Gisleson

St. Paul, Minn.

I was one of the many who saw the piece last December at BAM, and it was quite beautiful.
While each minute detail may not have been completely controlled right
down to the wire by Wilson, the piece was still exceptionally well done,
beautiful and mesmerizing. While experimental, it most definitely was
not a failure. As an abstract computer animator who works with new
graphic technologies, this work represented to me a successful marriage
of art, emotion and technology. Glass' operatic score was exquisitely
sung, and a perfect match to the visuals.

The numerous friends of mine who also saw MOG had mixed reactions: A few thought it extremely boring, but the majority loved it. Wilson's very slow pace is something you can either take or not. I found it refreshing. To say Monsters Of Grace was not a successful experiment is simply just
not true.

-- Staceyjoy Elkin

What's in a name?


Problems and all, the Kennedys who have chosen public life (and some who haven't) seem more substantial than the Bushes. They don't have financial scandals (only personal ones), and they have gotten involved in sustained projects that make a positive difference in regular people's lives. The Bushes seem most capable of helping rich friends, making token overtures toward charity and avoiding anything that requires commitment or backbone. It makes me wonder even more why the mainstream media keeps giving young Bush a free ride.

-- Richard A. Jenkins

I don't comprehend the inordinate attention
currently paid to either the Kennedy family or any other politician. The media not only makes
these people icons, but also removes them from the public they're supposed to
represent. Campaigns have become about "managing an image," which can be made to be the complete opposite of reality. The most crude and caustic personalities can be made pure and wholesome by careful editing and presentation.

Whom does this serve? Certainly not the
populace democracy was intended for. Rather, it serves the media and conglomerates that require such icons to sell their products. The democratic process has been sold out
to big-money entities: media giants, large corporations or
other countries. I don't mourn the loss of one of these icons, but I do mourn the loss of three decent human beings, one of whom happened to be born into celebrity.

-- R. Blough

Please, enough of this myth about Chicago's first Mayor
Daley delivering the 1960 presidential election to John F. Kennedy. Its a
story founded in the sour grapes of the losers and has no basis in fact.
Of course, Cook County delivered for JFK -- Cook County always goes
Democratic. It had nothing to do with the so-called Daley machine -- there just
wasn't anything appealing about Richard Nixon to Chicagoans. Cook County
was, and still is, heavily Catholic, heavily union. Why on earth would any
self-respecting person living in Cook County vote for Nixon?

I also think Shapiro should reconsider the comparison of the Gore family political dynasty with
the Bush dynasty. Al Gore's father was a senator; I believe he lost reelection over his opposition to
American involvement in Vietnam. George W. Bush's father was a U.S. president and vice president. His grandfather was a U.S. senator, and he has a brother who is
governor of Florida. The Bush boys represent large, politically powerful states. Gore no longer
represents Tennessee in any capacity. The fact that Bush has amassed so much in the way of campaign funds proves that he has all the connections and privilege of a powerful monarchy.
Gore, however, is more pauper than prince.

-- T.V. Helms

Arlington Heights, Ill.

The Texas way of death


Imagine my surprise to learn that George W. Bush, Texas governor and apparent Republican candidate in the upcoming presidential campaign, may have to testify in a lawsuit for a Texas agency's
wrongful dismissal lawsuit, the dismissal coming at the behest of a large
Texas Republican contributor. Makes me wonder if George W. might come down
with the same loss that that dad possessed during his time in office when
called to answer questions regarding the Iran-Contra scandal. Or whether the
battle cry of the Republicans be a race to the floor of the House to inform
us that it's all a scandal manufactured by Clinton or Al Gore.
Time will tell. Meanwhile, it appears that the Republican
presidential nomination process is not over yet. Heck, remember Gary Hart..

-- Jeff Goro

By Letters to the Editor

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