Letters to the Editor From Ann Beattie, Daphne Merkin and Others

Monopoly’s Megaphone

To the Editor:

Liaquat Ahamed’s review of Amy Klobuchar’s “Antitrust: Taking on Monopoly Power From the Gilded Age to the Digital Age” (May 9) focuses too much on the legal philosophies of the Gilded Age and not enough on her central premise: “By restricting competition the trusts not only hurt consumers and workers and damaged the functioning of the capitalist system, they also came to be seen as a threat to American democracy itself.”

After George W. Bush’s Federal Communications Commission deregulated media ownership restrictions, locally controlled radio stations ceased to exist in many markets. Within a few years, iHeartMedia/Clear Channel Communications had effective control over 850 local stations and regularly replaced most local programming with talk radio or music feeds from centralized studios. Rush Limbaugh’s contract with iHeartMedia put him on about 600 of those stations.

I would argue that a man with a megaphone like that could easily become a threat to democracy. He represented one voice, instead of the 600 he replaced.

Jeff Davis
Akron, Ohio

Pro and Con

To the Editor:

I was taken aback by the conclusion of Lionel Shriver’s review of Cynthia Ozick’s novella “Antiquities” (May 9), which I read (at best) as a pre-emptive strike against any unhappiness the review might cause Ozick, who is a “pro.” What, exactly, does this word mean? That she has had a long, significant life in writing, and that writers roll with the punches? Who doesn’t know that, especially — as the reviewer points out — at age 93? The review concludes with Shriver talking to herself.

Ann Beattie
York, Maine

Splattered Paint

To the Editor:

Dani Shapiro’s review of Gina Frangello’s “Blow Your House Down” (May 9) was written, or so it seems, with a personal animus. In space that might have been devoted to discussing the book, Shapiro recounts her reluctance to review it (why didn’t she just turn down the assignment?) and the incredulous comments — “OMG and stop and no!!” — she jotted in the margins of her copy.

As a prolific writer of memoirs herself, Shapiro surely recognizes that the genre is a flexible one that allows for many different approaches. I’m not at all convinced that any memoir, even the most self-aware, completely escapes “revenge” or “justification” in the telling, but in this instance I don’t see much evidence of the “self-congratulation” that Shapiro suggests is the inevitable endpoint of such impulses.

“Blow the House Down” is intentionally all over the place, like splattered paint, which sometimes leads to repetition and a confusing chronology. Frangello’s memoir undoubtedly has its flaws, most noticeably in its insistence on being a feminist fable, but in my view its blistering candor and wry perceptions make for an absorbing and psychologically suspenseful (will she or won’t she end up with the lover she’s been having an adulterous affair with?) read.

Daphne Merkin
New York

Abrams’s Bookshelf

To the Editor:

I was already a huge fan of Stacey Abrams and her accomplishments, but thanks to her By the Book interview (May 9), I now know that her reading habit is voracious and impressively wide-ranging. I love knowing that she is a fan of Robertson Davies, among many other authors.

This insight into her broad and considerable intelligence is such a gift. Thank you! And thank you to Abrams for sharing this piece of herself.

Candace Singer
Port Washington, N.Y.

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