Cheers to J. Y. Smith for the lively obituary of historian A. J. P. Taylor {Sept. 9}. That it comes in the wake of the passing of that master-composer of swan songs, Alden Whitman, is fitting.

Some people think obituaries are a morbid preoccupation. But consider this: in the newspaper you find mostly bad news about the living and mostly good news about the dead. There is certainly more love expressed in death notices than anywhere else. And unlike stories that continue for weeks and months with commentaries and updates, the obituary appears once, and that's all, unless there is some posthumous hubbub (or an error in the story that is set right the next day).

Obituaries provide the most condensed, comprehensive, balanced, upward-looking information in the paper. If I can read only one page on a given day, I choose the obituary page without hesitation. Why not give obituaries more status by putting them on the front page? For starters, at least one each day could be placed there -- chosen at random perhaps -- to keep writers and readers in touch with life-and-death matters of ordinary people. One shouldn't have to be famous to earn a goodbye line. E. JAMES LIEBERMAN Washington