Issue 526 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine


I’ve always been interested in local history here in south Alabama, but I attended Alabama public schools and was taught the white man’s version of the Trail of Tears. I found Paul Chaat Smith’s insight into American Indian issues [“Our Fellow Americans,” interview by Mark Leviton, August 2019] thought provoking and, above all, human.

Charles W. Bryant Stockton, Alabama

“Our Fellow Americans” should be required reading for students and members of Congress. I have long read of the plight of American Indians and our betrayal of them, but I now have a lot more history and insight.

John Shine Urbandale, Iowa

I am sorry to say this, but please cancel my subscription. I loved Mark Leviton’s interview with Paul Chaat Smith and thought I had made a good choice — until I started reading Boomer Pinches’s story “Drowning for Beginners” [August 2019]. I will not put up with a fine magazine like The Sun using the F-word.

I’m sorry you allow such disgusting words into your otherwise interesting publication.

Name Withheld

I was captivated by Boomer Pinches’s story “Drowning for Beginners,” but I was taken aback when the protagonist, Travis, was examined and given a CT scan at a hospital — with no wallet in hand. When we make an appearance at a medical facility in this country, the first thing we are asked is, “Do you have insurance?” If only we were all fortunate enough to have Travis’s experience.

Margo Perin Santa Rosa, California

I was saddened to see two of your readers, whom I expect to be perceptive folk, say that those of us who voted Green in 2000 and 2016 cost the Democrats those elections [Correspondence, August 2019]. We did not.

In the 2000 presidential election, half of all eligible voters chose not to choose. If the Democrats, with their huge advertising budget and publicity machine, were unable to motivate more of the electorate to vote, that’s not the Green Party’s fault.

The same is true of 2016, when voter turnout was in the 60 percent range. The Democrats lost that presidential election because they failed to offer anything exciting to nonvoters.

The Green Party is not a group of disaffected Democrats. We offer a vision quite different from the Democrats’ kinder, gentler corporatism: a vision of an America where people have the power to govern, and a society in which the well-being of the planet is more important than corporate profits.

Martin Holsinger Nashville, Tennessee

I wish those who blame Ralph Nader for “spoiling” the presidential election of Al Gore in 2000 would consider what actually occurred during the Clinton-Gore years. If you watched C-SPAN then, you saw Gore espousing the usual globalization practices that devastate the environment to increase stock markets. On Gore’s watch the Democratic Party moved to the right on several major issues. Clinton reversed the Glass-Steagall Act, for instance, which led to the 2008 subprime mortgage disaster. Given the stranglehold corporations have, it’s unlikely Gore’s views on the environment would have prevailed if he had become president.

After Gore lost the election, he dove deeper into environmentalism and created the film An Inconvenient Truth. I’ll bet his documentary did more to further environmental education than his becoming president would have.

Let’s please consider entire contexts before casting blame — especially on people who devote their lives to social uplift.

Julianne Maurseth Vallejo, California

Tracy Frisch’s interview with Leah Penniman [“To Free Ourselves, We Must Feed Ourselves,” July 2019] made me think it’s not just people of color but Americans in general who have been disenfranchised from the soil that produces their food.

I have tended a backyard vegetable garden for years and raise enough to share with neighbors and the local food bank. Whether it be kale in a raised bed or potted herbs on a windowsill, everyone can have the satisfaction of growing something fresh for their table.

What puzzled me about Penniman’s Soul Fire Farm is its spiritual component. With all the research into ancestral practices, ritual observances, and education, when does Penniman find time to pull the weeds?

T.M. Johnson Monroe, Washington

I admit it: I let my subscription lapse. My very last issue, July 2019, just arrived, and I pulled off the outer mailing jacket to see a beautiful close-up of a tomato. It immediately touched my heart.

Tracy Frisch’s amazing interview with Leah Penniman from Soul Fire Farm described a new future for regenerative agriculture. And the Sunbeams were just what I needed. (Can you tell that I’m a gardener?)

I have three other magazine subscriptions, all devoted to homesteading, gardening, and sustainable agriculture. I live on a quarter acre in a small rural town, but dream of living in a community based on growing healthy food — a dream so far not realized.

I have decided to renew my subscription. I realize I look forward to The Sun just like I do that first fresh tomato out of the garden. How did I think I could do without it?

Melody Schultz Ridgely, Maryland

Parnaz Foroutan’s story of how she escaped the Iran-Iraq War [“A Single Suitcase,” July 2019] brought back memories of my own family’s escape from communist Hungary in 1956.

We, too, hurriedly packed one suitcase and slipped out of our house at dawn. I was twelve and my sister was eight. We were walking — and silently crying — in the forest between Hungary and Austria with a group of strangers when we heard shouting and gunshots. The Russians were following us.

We left the suitcase on the forest floor and ran, in our one pair of shoes and our three layers of clothes, to what we hoped would be safety. We were lost in the dense forest when we saw an old lady gathering firewood in her apron. She motioned for us to follow her.

After we arrived at a small Austrian town, she vanished. No one knew who she was. My mother was convinced she was an angel sent to lead us out of oppression.

Three months later we landed in New York and began new lives.

Susan Kalev New York, New York

More often than not I am saddened to bear witness to this moment in time, so I am grateful for David Zoby’s essay “Fish Poison” [July 2019]. I can feel Buck Wilde ramming his finger into my heart, demanding more of me than despair.

Jessica Ham Covington, Georgia

There were so many stunning pieces in your June 2019 issue: from Benjamin Carter Hett’s thoughts on what we can learn from Hitler’s rise [“Big Lies,” interview by David Barsamian], to the excerpt from Anne Frank’s diary [Dog-Eared Page], to Kristopher Jansma’s extraordinary short story “The Samples.”

Martha McLaren Seattle, Washington

It was fascinating to read the June 2019 letters in response to Jari Chevalier’s interview with Bruce K. Alexander [“Filling the Void,” March 2019]. In both the interview and his response, Alexander states that Alcoholics Anonymous works “for only a small minority.” That small minority is more than 2 million people world-wide.

I’ve stayed sober in AA for thirty-eight years. Everyone I’ve ever known, especially my family, are grateful. AA isn’t for everyone, and nowhere in their literature does it say it is the only way. It’s not. But it’s a great way.

Judith K. San Francisco, California

Jennifer Bowen Hicks’s description of her Little Free Library [“The Library,” May 2019] gave me a great idea for how to distribute my old copies of The Sun. I hate to just throw them in the recycle bin, so I am going to start leaving them in the many Little Free Libraries that I see in my travels. I left two yesterday, including the issue with Hicks’s essay in it.

Marian Condon Ellicott City, Maryland

I know a magazine is good when I can sit for hours reading it, until the sun has suddenly set and it’s time to make supper.

The Sun is filled with stories that hold us all together and introduce us to strangers — all with no advertisements to interrupt or distract us.

Elizabeth D. Solomon Barboursville, Virginia


In Mark Leviton’s interview with Paul Chaat Smith [“Our Fellow Americans,” August 2019], there is a reference to the protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. In fact the protests were against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Sun regrets the error.

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