British sisters, General Motors and other letters to the editor

For the publisher:

I really enjoyed Claire Luchette’s essay “A Superfluity of Nuns” (September 19) and I would like to add a good word for my favorite novel on profession (or vocation): “L’abbesse de Crewe” by Muriel Spark.

Published in 1974, this is a terribly clever story of a scandal among an order of British nuns whose leadership closely resembles that of senior American officials trapped in Watergate. Unlike the serious literary works on the Cloth Sisters mentioned in Luchette’s essay, this is hilarious.

Richard grayson
Philipsburg, Saint-Martin

For the publisher:

In his ambitious review of two books on time and motion (September 12), Simon Winchester mentions how General Motors has “insidiously” put millions both on the road and in “near permanent debt.”

It should be noted that this was not the most egregious plan of the company that built the ominously dramatic “Futurama” at the 1939 World’s Fair. In 1949, GM, as well as Firestone Tires and Standard Oil, among others , were convicted in the “Great American Streetcar Scandal” of conspiring to monopolize the sale of supplies in the automotive industry, which would have wiped out public transport and guaranteed decades of dependence on cars .

How ironic, too, the trams, cable cars and other trams that they managed to decommission were electric modes of transport.

Lisa Seidenberg
Westport, Connecticut.

For the publisher:

Readers of Colm Toibin’s superb novel “The Magician” on Thomas Mann will be surprised to read Christopher Beha’s review of Mann’s “Reflections of a Non Political Man” (September 19), on the same page as the review by Jay Parini from “The Magician,” that Mann was bisexual. Toibin documents Mann’s homosexuality in detail. Parini quotes a passage in which Toibin reveals that Mann was attracted to his wife when he imagined her as a boy. It’s not bisexuality.

A strength of Toibin’s work is his portrayal of Katia Mann, a most endearing, intelligent and loyal wife, interesting in herself.

Ankle Cruikshank
Korea, Maine


For the publisher:

Christopher Beha’s critique shed enlightening light on Mann’s non-fiction writings and the evolution of his political and artistic views over time. I do not, however, agree with the opening statement that after the publication of “Buddenbrooks” in 1901, Mann did not complete “another great work” until the “Death in Venice” of 1912.

In 1903, Mann published the short story “Tonio Kröger”. “Tonio Kröger” is one of Mann’s most autobiographical works, and it contains valuable information about the young author’s nascent reflections on art and society. As such, it fits well with the non-fiction writings Beha describes. It is also widely regarded as one of Mann’s most important works.

Robert farrell
Waltham, Mass.

For the publisher:

In her By the Book interview (September 12), Gabrielle Union says she didn’t like most of the books she had to read in school, and if she hadn’t been forced to do homework on them, she would not have read beyond the first chapters. .

I suspect that the “required” part was probably a major factor in his distaste. In this, she would be a member of a big club. Imagine being served a hot fudge sundae as a kid, but told that once you consume it you would be forced to write a themed article on the ice cream industry. , with side tests on the geographical origin of nuts, chocolate and cherry fillings. Would you like this sundae?

If I were an elementary school teacher, I wouldn’t assign specific books. One period per day would be set aside for reading and everyone would have to comply (not look at phones), but each child would have unlimited choice of reading material. Books from the library, comics or magazines of the monsters of the house, Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Judy Blume, whatever appeals to every child. No tests, no essays, no oral reports and absolutely no peer denigration of the reading choice tolerated.

This, I think, would plant the seeds of a lifelong passion for reading far more effectively than the required readings of even the greatest literature.

David English
Acton, Mass.

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