Issue 503 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine


Your September 2017 issue, with Megan McKenna’s story about God living among the abbots [“One of Us,” Dog-Eared Page], arrived the Thursday after a white supremacist murdered a woman and injured nineteen others in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is not the first time in my long years of reading The Sun that you’ve addressed my fears and sorrows with uncanny prescience.

Johnnye Montgomery Midland, Texas

I read Leslie Stainton’s essay “Inventory” [September 2017] with my mouth hanging open. As an African American I was intrigued by the perspective of a person whose ancestors played a part in the buying and selling of slaves. I’ve been researching my own family history for years, and I volunteer at the Maryland State Archives, reading wills, probate records, and letters from the 1800s. I see lists like the ones Stainton describes, with Negro boys, girls, men, and women listed among pigs, horses, and sacks of flour. It was comforting to learn that someone else, no matter her race, could see the atrocities of slavery in such accounts. I’m grateful to Stainton for showing her humanity as she tried to understand her ancestor’s role.

Marie Daniely Oxon Hill, Maryland

I felt a personal sense of loss reading of Brian Doyle’s death [“The Salt Seas of the Heart,” September 2017]. His writing has the rhythm and musicality of a holy litany. Carol Ann Fitzgerald’s introduction captured this harmonious language so well, it was as if he’d had a hand in writing it. I will read the pieces you chose for the tribute many times, and I will miss him.

Dee Vogel Santa Cruz, California

My heart cracked wide open in May when Brian Doyle died. I thought it was the end of finding his work in The Sun. But no: here he is in the September 2017 issue, his words still vibrant and breathing. Thank you for introducing me to this man’s extraordinary writing and for continuing to share his gift with readers.

S. Kay Murphy Calimesa, California

I was flabbergasted to find a rogue spelling in the caption on page 15 of the September 2017 issue, where receipt is spelled reciept.

This unorthodox orthography reminds me of a note that Scribner’s iconic editor Maxwell Perkins included with a returned manuscript: “I’m not much of a speller myself but I’m fairly certain as is spelled with two z’s, not one.”

T.M. Johnson Monroe, Washington

If one were to erase the dates from the excerpts in “One Nation, Indivisible” [August 2017], nearly all could easily have been written today. They are as relevant now as they were when they originally appeared.

Dean K. Miller Loveland, Colorado

“It’s impossible not to make a difference,” Julia Butterfly Hill states in “The Butterfly Effect” [“One Nation, Indivisible,” August 2017]. This made me feel, for the first time, like an activist. Although I’ve never publicly fought for a cause, Hill reminds me that every choice I make shapes our world.

This week I’m camping near the headwaters of the Nantahala River and showing my two boys the beauty of water and rocks, and the freedom of having no cellphone service. Reading The Sun with my toes in the river, I’m choosing to spend my money on literature rather than material goods. I’m exercising for physical and mental strength in an effort not to rely on our failing healthcare system.

As a woman married to another female in a small Southern town, I am grateful to the activists who fought for my right to marry a same-sex partner. I’m also grateful to the environmentalists who ensure that the Nantahala National Forest stays protected, and to all who fought for free speech so that The Sun can exist. Although I would be out of my element in a march or a protest, Hill has assured me that each choice I make “leads either toward health or toward disease.”

H.B. Commerce, Georgia

You’ve recently started including political excerpts from your archives [“One Nation, Indivisible”], with an indication that this will be a regular feature.

I was disappointed to read this. I understand the point: that history repeats itself, and our past struggles reflect our current state of affairs. I agree, but I don’t need a reminder in every issue. There is so much new writing waiting to be published, and as a subscriber I already have access to your archives online. I hope you will make better use of the space.

Elizabeth Sturrus Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Right’s decades-long smear campaign against Hillary Clinton succeeded not because of the effect it had on conservatives but because it tapped into liberals’ and moderates’ unacknowledged sexism and convinced them that Clinton was unlikeable and unworthy. Sparrow’s description of Clinton in his essay “See You at the Impeachment” [August 2017] is a perfect example.

Instead of crediting Clinton with being confident and knowledgeable when she spoke, he was conditioned to see only “her smug condescension.” Instead of understanding the degree to which she has devoted her life to civic duty, he believed she was a “terrible candidate,” on par with an inexperienced, amoral billionaire.

Was she truly “as uninspiring as an Ohio dentist”? What magic combination of attributes would a female candidate need to have to inspire the Left and still be palatable to the middle? Was it not inspiring to watch Clinton debate Donald Trump? She stood unflinching amid lies and personal attacks to give remarkable performances. I’ve rarely witnessed such ability and grit.

The race between Trump and Clinton was an egregious display of double standards. Sexism is rooted so deep in our country that even voters on the Left were either blind to it, engaged in it, or simply uninterested in speaking out against it.

Noelle Burns Tacoma, Washington
Sparrow responds:

I supported Clinton. I tried to convince my leftist friends to vote Democratic rather than waste their affections on Jill Stein. I started a (tiny, ineffectual) group called Hippies for Hillary.

So I basically agree with Burns. Except for this: Clinton called one quarter of the American voters “a basket of deplorables” at a private meeting with wealthy donors. Her remark revealed that the Democratic Party, once the advocate of the working class, is now the party of rich people who ridicule the working class. Clinton also went from protesting the Vietnam War to admiring just about every war after 1980.

And Donald Trump has this mystical power: the more you attack him, the stronger he gets. When Clinton defied him, she looked heroic, but when she tried insulting him, she looked like a fourth-grade teacher mocking the confused kid in the back row.

I know this response is sexist, and I wish I could avoid writing about women entirely, because it’s impossible to write anything untainted by sexism — but I’m right.

I was introduced to The Sun nearly a decade ago by my boyfriend. I was immediately hooked. After moving to the UK, I searched in bookshops but never found The Sun. I purchased an issue the next time I visited the U.S. and decided to buy the longest subscription I could afford.

I feel part of a community as I read, savor, and pass the issues on. In your August 2017 Readers Write one of the contributors was from my current home of Dorset, England. It was a joy to know that a member of this wide but intangible community lived close by.

Rosie Gilchrist Dorset
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