Letters from our readers.
Nov. 21 1998 3:30 AM

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com. You must include your address and daytime phone number (for confirmation only).


Virtually all the e-mail Slate receives is signed. However, in recent days, Slate has been flooded with unsigned e-mail responding to the Steven Brill article on Kenneth Starr. We are unable to respond individually to this mass of letters, so here is Steven Brill's general response:

First, my question for Ken Starr has nothing to do with the president's guilt or innocence. Obviously, the president's disgraceful and probably unlawful conduct is more important than Starr's, but that does not make Starr's apparent breaking of the law irrelevant. Second, it's hilarious to hear people say about Starr's leaks--as I never did and never would with regard to the president--that breaking a law isn't important because everyone does it, at the same time that they ridicule the notion that lying under oath about sex would be OK because lots of people have, or would, do it.

A Question for Bill

Re "A Question for Ken Starr": In all fairness, let's put Bill Clinton to the same measure of scrutiny.


--Donald E. DunnClinton, Tenn.

Definition of Leak?

In "A Question for Ken Starr," Steven Brill's brilliant writing says nothing that the Clintons' spin hasn't stated from Day 1: "Let us seek to destroy anyone that speaks in a negative regard about the Clintons." Kenneth Starr has done the job asked by the courts. Perhaps now that the Clintons have managed to get the tables turned by using the very press that acted like piranhas in getting the story and displaying it on our TV screens for months and even hours, Starr should exercise some of the Bill Clinton "dumb" defense and reply to the questions proposed by Brill with the wisdom of "It depends on how you define 'leak' "?

--Joe BlackTyler, Texas


Heavy Gamblers?

Re David Plotz's Nov. 12 article "Sin City 1, Puritans 0": I am 253 pounds of big-eating ex-football player. I am also, generally, against gambling. So much for your theory.

--Lowell Mick WhiteAustin, Texas

Genetic Burden


I could not believe what I read in the last paragraph of Slate's Nov. 11 "Today's Papers." To say that finding a genetic link to a "Founding Father" will bring forth a feeling of patriotic pride in alienated minorities is absurd. How can you overlook the fact that this "link" is a result of one race's dominion over another in the form of slavery? Where is the pride in that? I cannot overlook the fact that this link is a result of slavery. How could you?

--Roxanna Vanessa AlvaradoCulver City, Calif.

Full of It

As one who put in an order at Amazon.com and only just received the book (via FedEx) two days ago, can't I get a chance to read A Man in Full before it's analyzed to death? A quick Slate search on the subject has returned eight articles containing the title, though you are certainly not the only ones on the bandwagon. It seems I can't glance at the New York Times without seeing an article on Tom Wolfe or his latest work. I suppose the last straw was seeing that you have a "Book Club" debate on the subject. It's a pretty hefty tome, and I've never been a particularly fast reader. Can you give some of us a chance before giving it all away?


--Ryan KrigerBrookline, Mass.

New York Times Book Review (Yawn)

In his Nov. 14 critique of the New York Times Book Review titled "A Hundred Years of Lassitude," Jacob Weisberg ignores the biggest reason that it is so boring. (I agree with him on this point!) It is boring because many readers couldn't care less about 70 percent of the books it reviews. The NYTBR has become heavily weighted in favor of reviews of nonfiction over fiction. Nonfiction works generally appeal to small groups of academics/devotees of any particular subject, and those people are likely to read the books regardless of what the NYTBR says.

While the New York Times is perhaps more literate than other newspapers, it is, nonetheless, a general circulation newspaper and not an academic journal. In a general circulation newspaper I expect reviews of books that are, or potentially are, of interest to a broad range of readers. I don't think that means having to pander to the Oprah crowd. Many fine works of fiction go undiscovered every year. The NYTBR would be better served reviewing those.

--John ZimmatoreAtlanta

Address your e-mail to the editors to letters@slate.com. You must include your address and daytime phone number (for confirmation only).