Readers write back about the debut of a sex column, MoveOn at ten, the demise of newspapers and more.


Sex & the Witty

Santa Cruz, Calif.

Hurrah for “Carnal Knowledge“! [Aug. 4/11] The first installment is engaging, provocative and altogether promising (though the jab at Lady McCain was ill considered). Can’t wait for the next. The possibilities of the subject are limitless, and JoAnn Wypijewski, a national treasure, is just the woman for the job.



If JoAnn Wypijewski’s first submission, “The Shadow of His Smile,” to your new “Carnal Knowledge” column is indicative of what will continue to be offered, shut it down now. That was the most pointless, contrived drivel I’ve ever read in your pages.


La Jolla, Calif.

I applaud the addition of “Carnal Knowledge.” JoAnn Wypijewski has such a nice way with words. I don’t always agree with what she says, but I do like to hear her say it.


McMinnville, Ore.

Sex comes along and kneecaps politicians from time to time. Otherwise it has no place in politics, or The Nation. I read the piece carefully but detected no substance or relevance, only a little drool.


Westport, Conn.

To say thank you to JoAnn Wypijewski and The Nation does not begin to express my delight upon reading her first “Carnal Knowledge” column. In our state of turmoil and anxiety about everything that has been happening in our country under Bush, Wypijewski is making more sense than most political commentators. Her focus and perception of the sex factor, which no one dares talk about, is brilliant. I cannot wait to read her next column!


MoveOn–It Moves Me

Nashua, N.H.

I read with much interest Christopher Hayes’s “MoveOn at Ten” [Aug. 4/11]. I must admit I am one of the many “one click activists” using MoveOn’s easy access to petitions. I also contribute money regularly when they propose to air an ad on one of my hot-button issues. I have not taken part in any other MoveOn activities and am probably typical. I can see Hayes’s point about the diminishing effect of the petitions, given the small effort it takes to “sign” one. But I still feel that MoveOn provides a much-needed outlet for my frustration with the course government has taken since the Reagan era. I found MoveOn shortly after the 2004 election, when so many of us woke up stunned and thought, “They re-elected Bush?” I can only hope its mission will become less necessary in the future.


Richardson, Tex.

Conservatives are learning to use the Internet, too. Newt Gingrich put together more than 1 million signatures on his “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” petition in less than a month.


And No More Ink on Your Hands…

Toppenish, Wash.

A few comments on Eric Alterman’s August 4/11 column, “I Read the News Today… Oh Boy“: environmentalists everywhere should be celebrating the demise of the major newspapers. Consider the vast forests of Douglas fir that are destroyed for ads in the Sunday New York Times. Don’t forget the floods that result from these clear-cuts, plus the water wasted and the air pollution released during pulp production. Now maybe we can get our native ecology back!

Plus, as Alterman has advised numerous times, the print MSM has not reported any real news for years anyway. The newsosaur is a creature that once had its day but is now suited for extinction.


Where Was the NLGJA?

Kansas City, Kan.

I appreciated Amy Alexander’s “The Color Line Online” [Aug. 4/11], about the online successes and challenges for minority journalists. However, I was disappointed that she failed to mention the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, which has been around for eighteen years and has 1,300 members in twenty-five chapters. The gay community includes members of the “colored” community and is the only one without equal rights and protection under law.


Guatemalan History 101

North Hollywood, Calif.

The Novelist and the Murderers” by Nathaniel Popper [July 7] is one of the best and most enlightening articles I have ever read. The enormous irony brought out so masterfully by Popper is that a brief and basically nonessential mention of a character in a book could have such monumental and decisive consequences in the political destiny of a country. Guatemala’s modern history was so vividly opened by the article that I believe it should be required reading for all students of Latin American studies. Thank you.


R.I.P., Darling

University Park, Md.

Reading Frances Richard’s review of Luc Sante’s Kill All Your Darlings [“New Old Things,” Feb. 18], I was surprised to see the advice “Kill your darlings” credited to William Faulkner. This advice, phrased as “Murder your darlings,” has long been one of my favorite pieces of editing wisdom–and it came from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944). It appears in On the Art of Writing, published in 1914. Maybe Faulkner, a teenager in 1914, got it from Quiller-Couch.”Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it–whole-heartedly–and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”


We’re Spreading the Word

Port Hueneme, Calif.

Years ago at the gym for non-jocks at Miami University in Ohio, it was customary for subscribers using the machines in the fitness center to leave magazines for others to read on racks provided for that purpose. However, it was prudent to cover over or remove one’s address label on magazines like The Nation; otherwise one risked late-night calls from drunken reactionaries. A very small risk, probably–too few pictures in The Nation in those days to attract such readers–but a risk.


Amarillo, Tex.

A term, for which I give credit to my daughter’s anarcho-punk friends (who probably stole it) for the much more productive method of recycling apparently subversive reading material, such as past issues of The Nation with which one can bear to part: Read and Release.


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