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Letter to Book Magazine - 7/7/2002

Dear Editor,

The listing of the 100 Best Characters in Fiction in the March/April issue of Book is just wonderful. Normally you have to read People Magazine to find such a completely arbitrary and meaningless ranking. And let me say also that the "Garth vs. Britney Face-off over Literacy" knocked my socks off! This is exactly the type of thing I expect from a literary magazine. Just think, without Book to provide such informative charts, Iíd have to read USA today on a mediocre day or watch the Simpsons on a particularly satirical day. Similarly, the "Review & Opinion" section of your magazine is just remarkable. Usually, you have to read the back of a dust jacket to find the kinds of penetrating insights found in "Review & Opinion," although unlike Book, dust jackets are usually factually accurate. To wit, Tom LeClair, in his review of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure, writes that Bhutan is a tiny African country. (Bhutan, whose name, incidentally, means, "land of dragons," is a tiny Himalayan kingdom (18,145 sq. mi.) sandwiched between India and Tibet.)

The silly list of the 100 Best Characters, the fascination with Garth and Britney, and the ignorance of geography, makes me wonder whether your staff is actually composed of immature, pop-culture infatuated, 8th graders who donít know the difference between Asia and their bottoms, or if they are simply targeting 8th graders as their audience. Upon reflection, Iíd guess its both. Iíd like to close this letter with a histrionic plea to cancel my subscription but Iím still house-training my puppy and he has developed a fondness for peeing on your magazine. Instead -- as the government contemplates more and more wars around the globe, and a supposed literary magazine makes errors in geographical fact -- Iíll close with a surprisingly perspicacious observation by comedian Paul Rodriguez: "War is Godís way of teaching Americans geography."

Response from Book Magazine

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