Cosima Coinpott’s Debut
As a long, longtime subscriber to The Nation, I congratulate you on cryptic Puzzle No. 3197 [June 20]—the first by the new constructors. The puzzle is brilliant, with great humor and wonderful homage to Frank Lewis at 1 across. Kudos!
I am halfway through the first Kosman/Picciotto puzzle. I am demoralized, befuddled, tormented and enraged. Thank you! 1 and 29 across is a stroke of gracious genius. The torch is well and fittingly passed.
JOHN C. McLUCAS
The new puzzlers are tops! The inaugural cryptic was elegant and lively; the tribute to Frank Lewis in the first clue was perfect; and finding the authors themselves playfully peeking out from two other clues was a delightful surprise. I can’t wait until next week! Candelabra voyage entertains praise (5)!
PAIGE A. NICHOLS
Markowitz Hits the Mark
I’ve just finished reading “Trials,” on Janet Malcolm, by Miriam Markowitz [June 6]. I am compelled to do what I’ve never done before concerning a book review or essay: I am sending my thanks and congratulations to an author I’ve somehow missed in the past but will not miss again. For the clear-eyed comprehension and scope Markowitz brings to her subject and for the most fluid, elegant prose I’ve read in many years, her writing sets a new, extremely high standard for the art of the essay.
This is simply stunning work. I look forward to reading more—anything—she has written, past and future. In a world overflowing with too many words that say far too little, Markowitz’s work is just, fair-minded—and deeply appreciated.
DIANE R. IVONE
Lake Orion, Mich.
“Trials” contained a reference to the “conditional tense.” There is no such thing. Tense is strictly temporal, broadly divided among past, future and present. Mood is contextual and independent of the temporal. There is a conditional mood, more often referred to as the potential mood, as well as subjunctive, imperative and the default mood, the bland and literal indicative.
The subjunctive is used to indicate that something is in fact not true, but if it were, then some other consequence would flow. He is not guilty. Had he been guilty, then he would have fled. The conditional or potential mood indicates genuine either/or uncertainty. If he is guilty (and we don’t know), then he will flee. The indicative makes up most reportage. He is guilty, and he fled.