I gasped when I turned the page, and there, captured in strong shades of browns and blacks, was a picture that might have been drawn on the walls of a cave 10,000 years ago.
The particular drawings that came to mind were the herds of horses in the caves at Lascaux, France. The old and new images share a sense of dignity, solidity and a calm determination. They fill our view. The goats in the photo look otherworldly, and, though they’re sturdy, there is almost a sweetness in their eyes. They are, at once, both primitive and sophisticated.
Thank you for giving Malfatto’s photo almost half a page in color. It’s a treasure.
Barbara Morris, Falls Church
Editing suggestions for this book list
It was a pleasure to see so many forgotten classics mentioned by Ron Charles in his May 10 Arts & Style column, “12 novels that changed us.” I was very surprised, however, to not see a single novel by William Faulkner listed.
Faulkner wrote as if there were no literature before him. He created fiction anew and set the novel free to better serve the 20th century through a discordant, powerful and irresistible torrent of language that crashed through time, space and experience to tell the story of humans in ways both tragic and comic. In other words, in “The Sound and the Fury,” he taught me that there is more than one way to tell a story, and literature has not been the same since.
M. Thomas Inge, Ashland, Va.
Ron Charles included “Atlas Shrugged” among the novels that changed us “for better or worse,” but his review of Ayn Rand’s laborious screed to the glories of self-centeredness neglected to risk saying in which way it changed us. Two of the glowing comments on the novel that he cited — one from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the other from former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — give us a clue to its impact, though.
Thomas was taught by Jesuits, the aim of whose schools is to form “men and women for and with others,” but Rand’s books — which propound the notion that the pursuit of personal happiness is the moral purpose of life — preach a doctrine that makes Jesuit ideas laughable. Ryan claims to be a devout Catholic, yet his handing out the novel “as Christmas presents” makes a blind mockery of Catholic social teaching with its focus on doing for the least.
And as for Charles’s claim that “Atlas Shrugged” has “sold millions of copies,” the truth is that each year a group called the Ayn Rand Institute gives the book away to college and high school classrooms across the country whose teachers commit to having their students participate in an essay contest. If the free books are included in the “millions of copies” to which Charles referred, the sales figures would be less impressive than he makes them sound.
Allan L’Etoile, Vienna
A review, but not of a book
Every newspaper writer knows the most important information in an article belongs in the first few paragraphs. Yet, Linda Killian, in “A White House correspondent confronts Trump’s tantrums and untruths,” her April 26 Book World review of Jonathan Karl’s “Front Row at the Trump Show,” waited until the fourth-from-the-last paragraph to inform us that Karl was “writing before the coronavirus outbreak.”
First, she told us about recent White House briefings and President Trump’s recent “mini-tantrums.” She told us about The Post’s fact-checking of Trump’s recent false statements. These are not part of the book. What was she reviewing? Killian used the opportunity of the book review to promote an anti-Trump agenda. When Karl did not deliver on her agenda, she criticized him for failing to “raise” these questions and for lacking “analysis of the larger issues Trump and his presidency represent.”
John Stodola, Bethesda
Don't forget Lithuania's long struggle to be free
At first blush, the May 9 The World article “The last of Stalin’s female fliers,” about Galina Brok-Beltsova, the 95-year-old former Soviet navigator who fought the Nazis, seemed inspirational. Certainly, she deserves respect for her service in defense of her native Russia. She said about the war: “We were destroying them and conquering them because they were trying to destroy us.” If only it were so simple.
For millions of citizens of Lithuania and the other Baltic states, the Soviet armed forces that liberated them from Nazi occupation were also the forces that subjugated them — for the second time. The Nazi invasion of Lithuania in 1941, coming a year after the Soviets illegally annexed the Baltic states, interrupted Joseph Stalin’s deportation of Lithuanians to Siberia. After the U.S.S.R. pushed the Nazis out of Lithuania in 1944, the Soviets resumed deportations. The Lithuanians weren’t trying to conquer anyone; they simply wanted to be left in peace. By the time the war ended and Brok-Beltsova found herself stationed in Lithuania, she was no longer part of a liberation force; she served in a military occupation regime that deported hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian citizens and killed tens of thousands.
Though this verdict might sound harsh, it’s a truth that deserves attention. While Germany accepts responsibility for the genocide and war the Nazis inflicted, the Russia of Vladimir Putin trumpets the U.S.S.R.’s liberator role while refusing to acknowledge its culpability as an aggressor that conquered the innocent during that war and held them hostage for decades. For Russia, the United States and Western Europe, Victory in Europe Day occurred 75 years ago. For Lithuania, that day was delayed until March 1990, when its parliament reestablished national statehood. Less than two years later, when the U.S.S.R. collapsed, we finally had assurance that victory had been achieved in every nation of Europe.
Victor Nakas, Falls Church
People aren't exotic
A character in the May 8 “Dustin” comic strip used the word “exotic.” By using the word in the context he did, Dustin showed his racial ignorance. People are not “exotic,” but far too often white people view themselves as the standard and everyone else as “exotic” or “different,” meaning “other.” “Others” are not “we or us” but “them or those.” The effect divides people from our common humanity and perpetuates the systemic racism that continues taking the lives of black and brown people at shocking rates.
Molly Jackman, Kensington
What a huge (literally), pleasant surprise to open up the May 3 Post to see Ann Telnaes’s magnificent cartoon, “Trump’s hunka hunka daily love” [Opinions]. Her full-page editorial cartoon exemplified the power and impact of print that simply can’t be duplicated in electronic media. Telnaes and The Post are to be congratulated for this. Telnaes is a gem who is all too often hidden from the readers of the print version of The Post. Please do readers a favor and use this enormous talent in the print version more often.
Wiley Miller, Jefferson
The writer is the creator of “Non Sequitur” comic.
When geography fuels destiny
The May 10 Travel article “In ‘Human Territoriality,’ photographer documents how national borders evolve,” about “Human Territoriality,” Swiss photographer Roger Eberhard’s book on political borders, struck a chord for me in the statement “a person who was born [in Belarus] in 1905 and who remained in the village for 90 years would have had five nationalities over the course of the 20th century.”
My mother was born in a village in Belarus in 1905 and left because of a border (and nationality) change. After World War I, the Poles revolted against Russian rule and won their independence. A part of the peace treaty of 1921 ceded a portion of Belarus, including my mother’s village, to Poland. She had been studying to be a schoolteacher, but the schools had been replaced by Polish schools. She couldn’t speak Polish and, seeing no future there, she emigrated to the United States.
Lawrence D. Powers,
A fly in the ointment
In his May 9 Free for All letter, “Those pesky aliens,” Mike Walter described how a fly trapped inside a telescope would resemble what appears to be a UFO in recently released Navy video clips. He then concluded by remarking, “Sorry folks. It is just a bug.”
Clearly, Walter is not an entomologist, and, frankly, neither am I. However, as the great-granddaughter of Vance Zahrobsky, one of the world’s greatest entomologists of his time (early 1900s) and whose surviving beetle collection housed in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History exceeds 70,000 specimens, I was raised to respect entomology and learned to be specific regarding terminology.
Sharon Donahue, Potomac
Good golly, we'll miss him
Many thanks for the fine tribute to Little Richard, “Piano-pounding singer defined rock-and-roll’s incendiary spirit” [front page, May 10]. Little Richard, the “Quasar of Rock,” the “Georgia Peach,” but, perhaps most important, the Rev. Richard Penniman, struggled mightily between sin and salvation, the sacred and the secular.
Little Richard really was an architect of rock-and-roll and rightly a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. No one but Little Richard could have taught Paul McCartney his iconic “Wooooo!” featured in the Beatles’ “She Loves You.” Richard did not knock on music’s door when he unleashed “Tutti Frutti” in 1955; he kicked it in, and music was never the same.
There is but one word on his passing: “A-wop-bop-a-loo-mop-a-wop-bam-boom!”
Larry K. Houck, McLean
What are Post sportswriters doing?
I enjoyed the May 15 front-page article “Pandemic is latest blow to sportswriting profession,” but I was hoping it would address how The Post is dealing with its sportswriters. Though newspapers are reluctant to report on their inner workings, this was a hole in the article. Separately, Thomas Boswell should have been included in the list of “most acclaimed” sportswriters. The frequency of his column is down like everything else, but I am lucky to have his published collections to fall back on during what should be baseball season.
Isaac Perry Cocke, Towson
Perspective is everything
Mark Twain popularized the phrase “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” However, one should add the category of “graphs,” as illustrated with the May 10 Business illustration “A decade of economic gains, lost in a month.” The full-page graph shows an apparently extraordinary rapid growth in jobs in the past 12 years (actually less than 10 percent) and recent catastrophic loss of jobs. But it exacerbated the changes by using a Y axis that started at 125 million and an X axis starting at 1998. The small detail graph in the middle of the page shows the graph with a zero Y axis, but how many readers noticed that? I certainly do not wish to suggest the recent job losses are anything but catastrophic, but the numbers are bad enough without misleading visual games with graphic presentations.
Paul Eggers, Olney
Fresh perspective is everything
David Vandenbroucke’s May 16 Free for All letter, “Nothing to see here,” complained about the angles of The Post’s photographs of President Trump.
Oh, for heaven’s sake, we all know what Trump looks like. Post photographer Jabin Botsford has done a stellar job in bringing us imaginative angles on the person who takes up so much of the news space. Botsford has a challenge to show us how the leader of the free world looks every day in new and different ways. I often am agog at how Botsford daily meets that challenge. Bravo.
Lucia S. Hatch, Washington
They both took the fork in the road
It was notable that in the April 30 Post, two opinion columnists — Ruth Marcus in her Thursday Opinion column, “The new facts on Biden and Reade,” and George F. Will in his op-ed, “The only candidate who can stand up to China” — used the same quote attributed (or not) to economist John Maynard Keynes. Coincidentally, both columns dealt with former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, but neither involved economics. As Yogi Berra might have said, “Who’da thunk it?”
John Perazich, Washington
A standout Cavalier
I enjoyed reading the May 7 Sports article “With local duo, Virginia lays a quality foundation for a rebuilding program,” about the University of Virginia’s women’s basketball team. But I was perplexed by the omission of a mention of Assistant Coach Monica Wright Rogers. Rogers played basketball at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge and for U-Va. She is the all-time leading scorer for the Cavaliers. She was selected second by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2010 Women’s National Basketball Association draft. Rogers deserves kudos along with Coach Tina Thompson for rebuilding the team.
Rosemary Wolfe, Bristow