August 10, 2022

Noting That the Power of Words Can Be Good and Bad

To the Editor:

The power of words was much in evidence in the August 3 issue of Town Topics. Stuart Mitchner’s meditation on his lunch with Dawn Powell [“Dawn Powell’s New York — An Invitation to Lunch,” Book Review, page 12] was, I think, one of his most moving columns (and that’s saying a lot). How brilliant Stuart is at weaving together the strands of his own and Powell’s lives — the triumphs and disappointments — and how achingly familiar is his wistful wish to revise the past. I shared his anger at the short-sighted editor who would have cut a key passage from his first book, and was more appalled to learn of the editors who discouraged him from publishing his second.

The power of words was also in evidence in that issue’s Mailbox. Maryann Witalec Keyes’ and Lauren Bender’s letters describing the inadequacies of questionnaire (that will supposedly inform Princeton’s coming Master Plan) were thoughtful and fact-based. The short-sighted questionnaire and much of the rhetoric surrounding it are not. The “power of words” can be good and bad: there’s honesty, and there’s double-speak. Take your choice.

Ellen Gilbert
Stuart Road East