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I’m a new subscriber, and have enjoyed my first three issues immensely, the November 1997 issue in particular. David Barsamian’s interview with Noam Chomsky, “The Common Good,” was excellent, and Michael Ventura’s “Connecting a Few Dots” was insightful and inspiring. Those of us who struggle against the odds need to be reminded that the effort is always worthwhile.
I had to chuckle at Richard Egan’s letter in the Correspondence section, in which he questioned whether The Sun is attempting to appeal solely to Northern “liberal, white people with long hair living in the country.” This is one almost-Southern suburban, short-haired, professional African American who is glad he was introduced to your magazine.
The conclusion of Dorian Gossy’s story “The Physics of Suspension” [November 1997] moved me to tears. And Christine Marie’s poem “My Father Walked with Me in the Woods” was a perfect fit at the end. Perhaps these two pieces spoke to me particularly because my father was a science teacher and very remote while I was growing up. After going to college and taking some sensitivity classes in the late sixties, I returned home with the courage to hug my father. Awkward and stiff at first, our embraces became more natural over time, as he began to respond. But I always initiated them. Years later, I visited my father while he was dying of pancreatic cancer, and for the first time he asked me for a hug. Shakily, he rose from his wheelchair and we embraced. It was the last time I saw him alive.
I admire your publication’s commitment to honesty. Quite often, the stories and essays contain unexpected revelations. But I was hardly prepared for the sudden transition from a day in the life of Alison Luterman, compassionate social-services provider, to lesbian porn [“Virus,” October 1997]. Was it necessary for Luterman to share the graphic and explicit details of her sexual relationship? This was far more information than I wanted or needed. Not to mention that a clenched fist (except when it’s raised in defiance) equals abuse, which equals violence, even between two consenting adult women.
I like The Sun. Not every piece sharpens my pencil (the details of Alison Luterman’s sex life were a little more than I needed to know), but it does feed my need for enlightenment.
I have loved your magazine for many years and have given subscriptions to friends for Christmas in the past. After reading “Virus,” however, I am glad I didn’t do so last year.
It was a wonderful essay — except for the gratuitous fist-fucking scene. If I wanted to read about fist fucking, I could have borrowed one of hundreds of books my ex-husband had on the subject.
“Virus” reminded me that it is the nature of good art to make the private public. Without moralizing or making a “statement,” Luterman confronts social responsibility, community, desire, otherness, poverty, and death.
I am not a social activist. I do not want to make my sexuality into a political statement. But I live and work in a culture where I am invisible: I look straight; I talk straight; I write and teach straight. It isn’t that I try to pass; I do it without trying. Once in a while, it’s nice to see some of my world reflected in what I read. It makes me feel just a little less invisible.
Where but The Sun would work like this find a voice? It’s too political to belong in the genre of eroticism, too sexual to make it into Utne Reader. Over the years, The Sun has published something to offend almost everyone. Keep up the good work.
It was with some annoyance that I read Jeffrey Stoessl’s response to Lorenzo Milam’s “Ode to a Serotonin-Reuptake Inhibitor” [Correspondence, October 1997]. Where is Stoessl’s sense of humor? I may be going out on a limb, but I’ll venture that he gives out pills but never takes them. If he had taken the medication himself, he would have known that everything Milam said was true.
Like Milam, I, too, couldn’t write while taking a serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, and I had never heard of this side effect. Milam’s essay validated what for me was a truly bizarre experience. He didn’t oversimplify or dismiss mental illness; he told it like it is.
After spending most of my life suffering from undiagnosed depression, PMS, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit disorder — not to mention anxiety as a result of having all those conditions — I decided to try medication, because I’d run out of explanations for why I felt so bad. In fact, I thought I was “normal,” that everyone felt as depressed, anxious, and fearful as I did — until the fateful day I took a tablet of Prozac and, twenty-four hours later, discovered what normal was.
On Prozac I felt fluid, energetic, and grounded. All I wanted to do was dance, run, walk, make love, lift weights, and practice yoga. But I couldn’t write, nor did I want to, and I was as disorganized as ever.
Ritalin banished the annoying side effects of Prozac, but left the benefits. With Prozac and Ritalin, I now sleep like a baby, keep my home in order, write daily, and get my kids to school and myself to work on time — mostly. While I’m not a “grinning idiot,” I don’t get mad much anymore.
Prozac and Ritalin didn’t save my life, but they have given me the life I always knew I could have. If Ritalin and Prozac became illegal, I’d be out on the street buying them, because I’m never going back to the way I was.
Your October 1997 issue confirmed my belief that many Americans are phenomenally ignorant about Canada’s geography. In your Correspondence section, you give Tim Brandt’s address as “Winnipeg, Ottowa.” Well, Winnipeg is in the province of Manitoba. And Ottawa, not Ottowa, is a city, not a province — it just happens to be our nation’s capital.
As Brandt’s letter states, “Everything is connected to everything else.” The United States is connected to Canada in a big way. So, in the name of editorial accuracy, why not at least get out an atlas and look up your northern neighbor?
My husband and I have been debating whether or not to renew our subscription to The Sun. We’ve been avid readers for quite some time, but for the last nine months your magazine has been downright depressing. After reading Sunbeams and Readers Write (which we thoroughly enjoy) we find the rest acutely disappointing. Ultimately, we have to be true to our feelings: your magazine has become a downer.
In your subscription-renewal letter, you quote a reader who says, “Every issue has something that knocks my eyes out. And makes me see. Something that makes me fall apart with laughter.” The same is not true for us. Nothing in The Sun even raises a titter, much less fall-apart laughter. We have chosen not to renew because we wish — at least some of the time — to be uplifted.
In a publishing scene that is largely a commercial desert, The Sun is a rare blend of spirituality and the nitty gritty of life — a marvelous meeting of guts and grace. It has uplifted me many times.
Enclosed is my one-year subscription payment. If I had the money for a lifetime subscription, I’d send it. I can’t believe how much of my own unpredictable life story is being told in your magazine, which I now think of as “our” magazine. In every issue I read about things that trouble, awe, inspire, upset, and tickle me, as well as make me wonder.
The September 1997 issue, however, made me so angry I nearly canceled my subscription. “Eric, Recovering Wino,” by Eric Granskou, reminded me of my past and shook my present reality, even after the emotions it triggered eased. People who don’t know what it’s like to be an addict or an alcoholic get a very distorted view from accounts like Granskou’s. His story is only part of the picture. People ought to know, too, that addicts and alcoholics are notorious liars who will go to any lengths to tell tales about themselves. They will also go to any lengths to change, to stay sober, and to live decent, fulfilling lives.
I’m glad I didn’t cancel, because today the current issue came in the mail. Keep doing what you do, so that we can continue to have “our” magazine.
“Eric, Recovering Wino” was an eye-opener. I had just spent three weeks in India, where I came to understand the need for compassion. I now include Granskou and others like him in the group that will benefit the most from a more compassionate society.
John Biguenet’s “The Vulgar Soul” [September 1997] was a reminder that we all have the gift of miracles. A Course in Miracles defines miracle as merely a shift in perception. How quickly we overlook the many miracles that occur each day.
After receiving two issues of your magazine, I have regretfully canceled the subscription, which my wife, thinking that I would appreciate a “magazine of ideas,” gave me.
Unfortunately, not all ideas are worthwhile. Just for the record, I find your magazine to be an incredible mishmash of new-age smarminess, embarrassing and mawkish confessionals, terrible poetry, ludicrous pseudoscience, and platitudinous clichés worthy of Reader’s Digest.
Come on! Surely, in the rarefied atmosphere of Chapel Hill you can do better.
I’ve subscribed to a lot of alternative magazines over the years, but none as complex and real and dark and light and hopeful as The Sun. It’s as if Sy Safransky has created a living organism: it thinks; it’s sexual; it eats and drinks and pees; it seeks a higher authority; it dances. I’ve often wanted to write and say how much I adore his “monster.” It has eaten me alive many times.