Monday, June 21, 2021

Reflecting on the lifespan of reading and other letters to the editor

to the Editor:

Min Jin Li’s wonderful essay, “shelf life” (April 18), a flood of memories erupted. My family often went to me and my brother and I left to unpack because our mother would take us to the local library as soon as we finished.

When she went to get her book, we requested the children’s picture book shelves, trying to get our 10 to take home. I remember the smell of ink and paper, the magical illustrations, the different print styles. The new book — anticipating Lee — accompanied me in my 80th year.

Susan Susman
Aventura, Fla.

to the Editor:

Lee’s essay reminds me of renting books from a revolving library in the 1960s Mumbai suburb of Mahim. I will save pocket money for books from this library. The owner of the library did not make enough money from circulation, so he also sold detergents.

I read Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca”; Arthur Haley’s “Hotel”; The Nancy Drew Series; RK Narayan. When I arrived in the United States and went to a library where I could borrow as many books as I liked with a library card, it was incredible.

When I was a young mother, my four boys used to fill their backs with books from the local library every Saturday morning and spread their lives on the carpet of the living room. Min Jin Lee shared every immigrant experience of assimilating into American culture by sharing his shelf life stories.

Bella banker
Haverford, Pa.

to the Editor:

Lee reminded me of my first library card when I received my name at the Scranton Public Library. I was just 12 years old and eligible to enter the adult class, no longer forced to live in the children’s department where I had read everything worth reading. I knew about adult piles and was desperate to explore them.

But I was not drawn to rows of books and window seats where I could sit and read with little disruption. One day, I happened to notice a collection of stories from W. Somerset Maugham. I knew his name, who had seen the movie version of “The Razor’s Edge”.

I opened the collection and came to “Rain”. I will never forget the experience. When I finally came to Sadie Thompson’s outrage (“You guys! You dirty, dirty pigs. You are all the same, you are all”), I knew what the minister had done and done to her. Maugham had no reason to go further, nor did I want him. I only wanted to read what I had read. Reading “Rain” was the first performance of my art.

Great storytellers co-author readers, fulfilling them with their imagination which is left unheard of on the printed page. I felt like an adult for the first time in my young life.

Bernard F. Dick
Teaneck, NJ

to the Editor:

In his essay, Lee put on a great literary performance, keeping Tempo and hitting the right note with every heartbeat.

I want to read (sadly in only one case) every book he mentions as well as (albeit impossible) meeting his Uncle John – and especially, after finishing his essay, “Another of her works” picks up.

Paul fehler
Ridgwood, NJ

to the Editor:

In Madeleine brand review In Ronald Brownstein’s book “Rock Me on the Water” (April 18), she incorrectly states that TV shows of the 70s “didn’t walk.” His examples include “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” as one of those shows that were “written by other men”.

Following Treva Silverman as a female TV writer gave me the honor of being one of the writing for “Mary Tyler Moore”, and thankfully opening the door for many others, I can correct her. I assure readers that James L. Brooks and Alan Burns, two white men who produced and went out in search of women to break that impenetrable glass ceiling, both on and off screen Kind of changed things for women.

This error and other comments about the “failures” of veterans in the industry like Norman Laird have a lot of flaws, I think I’ll leave the book, and I wish I could do the same with the review.

Susan Silver
New York

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