I appreciated Grace Lichtenstein's kind remarks about my book "Rock Lives: Profiles and Interviews" {Book World, Nov. 27}, but several of her comments made no sense.

First, she complained about major figures I "leave out" of my book, apparently not grasping that my book is an anthology and not a rock encyclopedia. Moreover, my stated intent was to focus on the performers' lives rather than their careers, so when Lichtenstein lamented the presence of "lightweights" such as Rickie Lee Jones in the book, I was puzzled that Jones's account of her painful past did not elicit a more sympathetic response.

Lichtenstein called my 1975 story on Paul Simon "dated," because it does not include mention of his "Graceland" album. My focus, though, was Simon's formative boyhood in the 1950s. And she faulted my Billy Joel interview for being "almost totally" about "The Nylon Curtain" album, which is untrue; that chapter begins with a 5 1/2-page prelude-cum-interview that discusses his life, and I cover all Joel's work to date.

Lichtenstein also mocked the fact that I devoted a chapter to the Beastie Boys ("Pul-EEZ!" she crowed). Yet that chapter, which traced the roots of rap and party-rock, indicted the group as purveyors of cynical, racist garbage.

Granted, "Rock Lives" is long, but Lichtenstein's review contained "gaps," to borrow her phrase, that "you can drive a bus through."

-- Timothy White