Would-a, Should-a Schumer

To the Editor:

In Ben Smith’s “Dubai or Not Dubai: Chuck on Killed Deal” [March 20], Senator Charles Schumer states in response to accusations that his anti-Dubai stance was motivated by xenophobia and anti-Arab racism: “Let’s say skinheads had bought a company to take over our port …. I think the outcry would have been the same.” Mr. Schumer should have said, “Let’s say an [Australian/Canadian/Norwegian] company bought a company to take over our port …. I think the outcry would have been the same.” That would be the true test, Mr. Senator.

Bruce Leishman


Those Who Doctor Photos Need Medical Attention

To the Editor:

Re “Why Is This Man Laughing?” [Gabriel Sherman, March 20]: Thanks for this article. The New York Times has been manipulating photos of Democratic politicians to make them look bad since the paper started using color photographs. For example, every shot of Bill Clinton was one of him with a pursed, weak mouth. That was a little tic of his, but The Times made sure to snap it and plaster it all over their paper to beat it into Americans that Mr. Clinton was weak. This one is designed to make Mr. Warner look devious—almost Nixon-like or used-car salesman-y. I’ve never seen this critical story about the media written, and thank you again. The pictures are possibly the most important part of the story these days.

David Stern

Woodstock, N.Y.

Mad Malamud

To the Editor:

Re Nan Goldberg’s review of My Father Is a Book, by my mother, Janna Malamud Smith [“In His Daughter’s Eyes: A Partial View of Malamud,” Book Review, Mar. 13]: How absurd that a reviewer assigned to read a memoir doesn’t know the difference between memoir and biography. A biography, like the one Philip Davis is currently writing about Ms. Smith’s father and my grandfather, Bernard Malamud, provides a detailed account of a person’s life. A memoir is a personal recollection. For some reason, Ms. Goldberg is offended that Mom wrote the latter. She attacks her—really nastily—for providing “Freudian clichés” rather than “actual facts.” I think my mother’s 30 years of experience as a psychotherapist, as well as a handful as Malamud’s daughter, entitle her to some contemplation of his psyche.

Ms. Goldberg also criticizes Mom for not offering “literary insight.” Mom writes: “In truth, I could make no objective assessment of the literary work, for I experienced it as a way-too-intimate view of my father’s confused feelings.” Fair enough, I think. My mother never claimed to have written a detailed exegesis of my grandfather’s work. Her clearly stated intent, and her accomplishment, was to write a thoughtful and warm remembrance of her relationship with the man. Writers at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and The Times all seemed to pick up on that.

If Ms. Goldberg wants literary analysis, maybe she should read some. If she wants “actual facts,” maybe she should read Mr. Davis’ book. If she wants to review a memoir, maybe she should start by consulting a dictionary.

Peter Malamud Smith


A Rarity: Thanks From a Publicist

To the Editor:

Kudos to Jason Horowitz for covering Richard W. Edelman’s comments at PR Week’s annual public-relations awards [“Publicists Lauded for Flackery; P.R. Gods Get Freedom From Press,” March 13]. Mr. Horowitz wrote a great article about P.R.’s dwindling reliance on traditional forms of media. As a member of the press, this must have been somewhat painful for him. I have worked in both hemispheres, and have treated both P.R. people and those in the media with frustration and zeal at different times. This revelation from Mr. Edelman will, I hope, dissolve many of those avenues of dependence that have hindered both the business of journalism and public relations. In a perfect world, the future will allow for a more free flow of information and truth to those who really crave it.

Rich Wright

San Francisco

You Nauseate Me

To the Editor:

As a Brit who has lived in New York half my life, I never fail to marvel at the cringe-making depths of American Anglophilia—particularly among those on the bow-tie-wearing American right who keep multi-volume sets of Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples prominently displayed in their chintzy drawing rooms.

Richard Brookhiser is of course entitled to his WASP-y “white man’s burden” view of history [“Bush Welcomes India Into the Anglosphere,” The National Observer, March 13]. However, I do slightly object when this kind of historically challenged piffle is spouted by those on this side of the pond who base their eccentric recipe for warmed-over Kipling on faith rather than facts.

Just for the record, my country (generously admitted by Mr. Brookhiser as a junior member of the Anglosphere, “so long as it stays out of the E.U.”) has been in the European Union—for good or ill—for ages. And in India (where socialism, according to Mr. Brookhiser, “has been consigned to the dunghill”), President Bush’s new atomic playmate, Prime Minister Singh, serves at the pleasure of the local Communists. They could, if they so chose, take him down in a nuclear nanosecond—and may end up doing so yet.

So much for the facts. Mahatma Gandhi must be spinning wherever he spins. Lord knows why you bother to cut down noble trees to purvey this numbskull Thatcherite bunkum.

Peter Foges