Mailer gets relevant
I am writing to thank you for your piece on Norman Mailer ["Oswald's ghost," May 11]. I never thought I would say that. Until I saw your article, I always wondered why Norman Mailer even bothered to write.

He told us about a convention of hack politicians in Chicago in Armies of the Night. Who cares?

He introduced us to a dreary parade of pissed-off lesbos in Prisoner of Sex. Who cares?

In The Executioner's Song he told us about a man so insignificant, so uninteresting, so utterly, preposterously nil, that he actually had to go to Utah to stand out. Utah! Anybody would look important by comparison to the rest of Utah. How ridiculous can you get? Moreover, who cares?

Those of us who have watched Mailer's career thought this one-man epidemic of tiresome books about assorted nobodies and non-events would have finished his career without producing anything of substance.

We were wrong. Oswald's Story will be the work for which Mailer is remembered. He has researched an important topic, he has done it while the witnesses are still alive, and he has made an important contribution to this country's history. Thank you for telling us about it.

Steve Stubbs

Elements of style
This is an unabashed fan letter for Matt Zoller Seitz.
His writing is so direct, so well thought-out, and expressed with such economy that it lacks the facade of "style" so often taken for substance these days.

All of this was so perfectly exemplified by his May 11 dual review of My Family and The Perez Family ["America, America"], the Panther piece ["Cat man dues"], and his tribute to Ginger Rogers ["Final step"], that I felt compelled to comment while it was still fresh in my mind.

Keep up the good work.
Constance Jahn

The many faces of Dick Armey
I am impressed with the equanimity in Ms. Rozen's article about Congressman Armey ["The improbable rise of Richard Armey," May 4]. I would have expected (and on a snickering level, relished) a bashing of this conservative given the philosophical openness of your publication.

It is difficult not to take up arms against such a large target as congressman Armey, and given his propensity for some ill-considered remarks about equally available targets such as President Clinton and his wife, the bashing would not be out of line and would have been cheered by many readers of the Deep Ellum ilk.

But succumbing to the path of least resistance is the lazy journalistic path, and enjoyment of such writing contributes to a lazy intellect.

Typical of this type of simplistic writing are the attacks on left and right that hinder intelligent political process in the world. Life is not simple. Congressman Armey is not a one-faceted person. To consider his life in all of its conflicting moments is the mark of excellent journalism, and it is refreshing to read such in your paper.

Every man has more depth than a sound bite, and I feel much more able to consider Congressman Armey's policy postures with the background that you provided.

William Schubert

Starving, leftist buzzards
To be quite honest, I find myself getting more and more fed up with your increasingly hostile and incredibly liberal "watchdog" over the Belo Corporation. While I am all in favor of keeping an eye on the big guys, I'm really sick and tired of you searching for things to pick at like a bunch of starving, leftist buzzards, particularly "The Gospel according to the News" [April 20].

So what if they wrote an article about the irony behind Good Friday and Passover falling on the same day? Every television station in the area ran a similar item on that Friday...so what! I commend the Morning News for at least trying to shed a little positive light in a dark day and age. I don't think I'll be picking up another copy of the Observer anytime soon.

Christina Bentley