I love the Dog-Eared Page and think it’s a great addition to the magazine. In the January 2011 Correspondence, Al Neipris opines that if he had a hankering to read C.S. Lewis, he would go to the library. I think what I like about that page is that it gives me a hankering for things I didn’t know I hankered for.
Annie Weatherwax’s story “Do You Know How Much I Love You?” [January 2011] finds a delicate way to deal with the tough subject of incest. I am ordering a gift subscription for my sister because of it.
Alison Luterman’s interview with Kim Rosen [“Written on The Bones,” December 2010] was stunning and left me wanting to learn more about a subject I already teach. “We are born into language through poetry,” Rosen says. There is no better description of the origins of communication. Perhaps we have such a difficult time communicating in the modern world because we have lost our ties with the poetic.
I’ve been a high-school English teacher for the last eighteen years, and Rosen has started me thinking how I can better teach the subject. She reminds us all that poetry is the language of the soul.
Kim Rosen has reopened the door to poetry for me. It has been a while since I’ve experienced the healing power of the written word — not since my youngest daughter died three years ago. After I read the interview, poems began circling through my head. I feel I finally have a way to reconnect with life.
I have so loved your magazine in the year I’ve been a subscriber that I’ve not only renewed but have ordered subscriptions for my daughters and a good friend. The Sun is both thoughtful and uplifting — rather unusual in today’s media.
But then I came upon the short story “What Do You Need?” by Jane Ratcliffe [December 2010]. Thoughtful? Uplifting? Hardly. I felt I should bathe after reading this disgusting piece of work, with its use of words like fuck, cock, and pussy and descriptions of bondage and a man urinating. I can’t believe Ratcliffe teaches writing. She brings language down to the lowest common denominator. Is this in the name of liberal thought? If so, spare me. I’m just glad my daughters did not receive this issue.
In a hyperbolical culture where a hamburger can be described as “perfect” or “awesome,” Chris Dombrowski’s magical memoir “The Oar: A Summer in Three Acts” [December 2010] reminded me of the true meaning of those words. His embrace of the world is awesome, his language as close to perfect as can be.
The December 2010 issue moved me to tears more than once, especially the short story “The Immortal Zelensky,” by Boomer Pinches. His fine use of telling details was, to me, a graduate course in writing, without being the least bit didactic or contrived or self-conscious.
I’ve read The Sun for eight years with enthusiasm. If a poem, essay, or short story doesn’t grab me right away, I will push on, believing that if the editors have chosen it, there is something of value. And there always has been, until I read “The Immortal Zelensky.” It was so self-conscious, awkwardly written, rambling, and uninteresting that I’m still baffled by its inclusion. I kept reading page after dreadful page (it was so long!), thinking there must be a payoff — some insight into human character or even an interesting turn of phrase — but nothing.
I’m writing because I thought you might be amused to learn that a guy who used to write Captain America and Dr. Strange is a fan. I began subscribing to The Sun when I started writing comic books professionally, because I felt I needed a broad reading base if I was going to do good work. At its worst, The Sun is like being stuck at a party where everybody wants to talk about their operations, their friends in hospice, and their divorces. But almost always it’s worthwhile.
You might imagine me sitting on an overstuffed couch eating frosting out of the can — while I imagine Sy Safransky sitting in a straight-backed Shaker chair eating unsweetened gruel. But much more often than not, I come away from The Sun feeling nourished. Not delighted, but nourished.
If I have a real criticism of the magazine it’s that it tends to project the view that life is death, sex, disease, and wrestling with personal relationships (with a smattering of grim politics), and that’s it. Stories of dreams and transformations are just not part of it. But you have worked your recipe so well that I can’t in good conscience tell you to change it. I just come in, pull up a chair, and take a bowl.
I have subscribed to The Sun for about eight years. For the first three years I received an annual letter that I suspected was a request for a donation. I say “suspected” because the letter went straight into the waste basket unread. Around the fourth year I started to read this annual letter before I tossed it in the recycle bin, but I did nothing about it.
I’ve finally heard your message about the need for reader support. Don’t ask why I waited so long, but here is my check, which I will send yearly to help guarantee The Sun is around for my daughter and grandchildren.
I once went to a favorite restaurant and found that it had closed down. “If you loved it so much, you should have come more often,” said one of the former employees. It was a tough lesson in taking things for granted.
I’m writing to remind Sun readers to cherish the resource we have in this magazine. Its existence is not guaranteed. It’s the product of commitments made by brave and visionary people. I want to thank Sy Safransky and his staff for the magnificent work and all my fellow subscribers for their choice to support it.
As a fairly new subscriber to The Sun I have only one regret — that I didn’t know about this amazing magazine sooner. I anticipate each issue the way I once did a glimpse of my latest crush in the high-school hallway. I try to ration myself to two pages each morning, ensuring that the issue will last almost until the next one arrives.
The pleasure this magazine brings me goes beyond the enjoyment of reading interesting and insightful articles. The Sun connects my spirit with the spirits of its authors.
Every morning I wake up and imagine what unknown events the new day will bring. When The Sun arrives at my doorstep, however, I know without a doubt that Sy Safransky’s Notebook will follow the same formula. Every installment is written by a man who sees himself as an aging yet extremely sexy guy who longs for words to fall into the desired locations with more ease and who cries out for people to stop adding to this world’s unbearable suffering.
I wish your marvelous magazine could stop being degraded by the editor’s adolescent need to share his dreams and intimate experiences. I’m sorry that words aren’t more cooperative for him, but perhaps they might be if he would stop forcing them into the same molds. I’m sorry that the suffering is still here, but Safransky’s endless comments about the depths of his feelings in no way improve the reality.
I hope he will consider trying something new. Perhaps he could stop writing and focus on his superb editing skills.
I get strangely defensive when people are critical of Sy Safransky’s Notebook. I actually like his somewhat tedious, very human rationalizations. It’s good to know that even a guy who has produced a profoundly moving, ad-free magazine for longer than I have been alive doesn’t know some secret that I don’t. He is not a master yogi free of self-doubt, but he’s one of my heroes.
I have been a subscriber for two years and am rarely disappointed. As a young reader, however, I wish you would publish more work by up-and-coming authors. So many of your essays and stories, as wonderful as they are, are about middle age, growing older, and death. It’s really quite exhausting. I think it would benefit readers if you began publishing some young authors to share a different perspective.
This month I told myself that I was going to savor The Sun and read a story a day to make it last longer. I couldn’t do it. Like a junkie, I read the whole issue in one day. There is no other magazine that affects me in such a visceral way.
A portion of Saint James Harris Wood’s mailing address was inadvertently omitted from his contributor’s note in our February 2011 issue. His full address is: Saint James Wood T-30027, P.O. Box 8101 / CMC 6268, San Luis Obispo, CA 93409.