Ready or Not, Here She Comes?


Katha Pollitt sounds more desperate than excited when she insists, a year and a half before the election, that it’s either Hillary or a Republican who will become the next president [“Ready, and Excited, for Hillary,” June 22/29]. I was a Hillary supporter in 2008, when the Democratic National Committee shoved her aside in favor of a young, inexperienced freshman senator. Democrats have paid heavily for that, and they will pay heavily again if they try to snuff out the incipient candidacy of a true progressive, a former mayor (elected four times), and a member of the US Congress for 25 years. Let the campaign progress. Pollitt says that Bernie Sanders will endorse Hillary if she wins the nomination. I would hope that Hillary, and all Democrats, will support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.

Malcolm Mitchell
new york city


In her readiness and excitement for the Clintons’ return to the presidency, Katha Pollitt is welcoming the continuation of neoliberal economics, which will do more harm than good for the women of America, especially those trapped in impoverished, blighted neighborhoods.

Message for Pollitt: The choices we have include Bernie Sanders and, if you must have a woman candidate with a clear set of values, Jill Stein of the Green Party, who will likely be on the ballot. If the only thing that motivates us politically is gender and a Supreme Court nomination, then not only is the era of big government over—to quote Bill Clinton—but so is the era of any useful government for the people, except the wealthy elite.

David E. Kingsley
kansas city, mo.

I can’t recall the number of times over the decades this old lefty has been advised to hold his nose and vote for some business-as-usual Democrat. But it would take a hermetically sealed space suit rather than mere pinched nostrils for Hillary Clinton to get my vote.

Pete Karman
new haven, conn.

Katha Pollitt is right on target in her piece regarding Hillary’s campaign for president. Men have run the world ever since Adam took a bite out of the apple, and they haven’t done such a good job of it. I can’t wait for Hillary to become president and show the world how the United States does things with a woman in charge.

Elaine Hendrie
bellport, n.y.

The Matter With Kansas

Kai Wright’s article “Life and Death in Red America” [June 22/29] had me seeing red. My late grandmother was a native Kansan and probably the best example of a Christian woman I’ve ever known. She would have been appalled at the healthcare situation that has been allowed to develop there. I have little doubt that many of the Republicans responsible for this mess consider themselves “good Christians.” The hypocrisy is enough to choke their symbolic elephant. Someday, I hope to watch as they get to explain their actions to the Lord they claim to follow.

Wendy Weidman
gig harbor, wash.

Thank you, Kai Wright, for your excellent piece describing the reality of large sections of rural America in 2015. These are people with a deep pride in their self-reliance. They have always depended on their family, extended family, neighbors, and community. Federal government? Stay home in Washington, DC.

I expected you to mention something about the number of babies being born at home and the return of the (so-called) coat-hanger abortion. Conservative rural Kansas, welcome back to the “good old days.”

Ken Jones
fitchburg, mass.

Your article on people in southeast Kansas who can’t afford healthcare says, “Everyone is convinced that someone else is getting a better deal…by gaming the system.” In fact, there are people getting a better deal—not by gaming the system but by creating it. These are the rich people and corporations whose taxes have been slashed as drastically as the funds for Medicaid and other essential services.

Linda Sleffel
columbus, ohio

Resurrecting Berryman


I was reading The Nation’s 150th-anniversary issue [April 6] recently, and there, on page 196, was a “Dream Song” by John Berryman.

When I took a humanities course with him at the University of Minnesota in 1957, he somehow got the idea that I actually knew something about literature. At the close of class on a Friday, he handed me a sheaf of papers and said, “Here, take these home and read them and tell me Monday if you think they’re any good.”

So I did, and of course it was way over my head (as many things still are). I put them on my desk, only to realize as I was getting ready for school Monday morning that Berryman’s papers were missing. I knew immediately what had happened: My neatnik mother didn’t know what they were, so she threw them out. I made a beeline for the incinerator, and there they were, intact.

I made up some kind of cockamamy but laudatory appraisal of his poems, and Berryman seemed pleased. It was then that I found out I had almost lost a first draft of 77 Dream Songs, which would earn him a Pulitzer Prize.

Just thought your readers would like to know. Rest in peace, John Berryman.

Willard B. Shapira
roseville, minn.

Signifying Nothing


With the important caveat that negative or mixed literary reviews can often be more entertaining and instructive than wholly positive ones, it seems William Deresiewicz’s assessment of Tom McCarthy’s novelistic output could be boiled down to two words: bad Pynchon [“Diminishing Returns,” June 1]. One suspects the real reason Thomas Pynchon has never been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature is not that he hasn’t proved hugely influential on subsequent generations of writers, but rather that he has—and with largely unfortunate results.

Unlike the still-growing crop of (almost exclusively male) postmodern creators of boring, inelegant, ponderous, theory-driven doorstop novels, Pynchon’s first books, V. and The Crying of Lot 49, carry their poststructuralism lightly and crackle with wit, satire, and well-crafted riffs on cultural-historical moments past. Since then, a whole subindustry of academic creative writing grinds ever forward, devoted to failed attempts at rewriting Pynchon’s 1973 masterpiece, Gravity’s Rainbow.

Chris Norden
lewiston, idaho