Letters to the Editor. Of books, authors, and other things

Not only are Beatrix Potter's delightful Peter Rabbit stories fine works of art, but they represent the means by which that dear ``lonely, introspective, sensible child and young adult'' maintained her spirit through long years of an elegant but limited life style [``The tale of Beatrix Potter, artist,'' Nov. 20]. A thoughtful, chronological perusal of her books reveals her gradually expanding sense of companionship and home -- from her pet rabbit Peter and favorite gardens of childhood to her won derful rat-catching cats and beloved Hill Top of later years. Helen Borgens San Diego I did not know that my favorite author, Farley Mowat, was denied entry to the US under the provisions of the McCarran-Walter Act [``Poetic plea for the environment by a writer barred from the US,'' Nov. 1].

Does not this action of a free and open society -- barring one of Canada's most distinguished writers -- make us look ridiculous in the eyes of the world?

The McCarran-Walter Act, passed 33 years ago at the time of McCarthy anticommunist hysteria, is still law. Guests from abroad invited here for conferences and tours have more difficulty than most of us realize obtaining visas. Schools and libraries are criticized for buying books by ``suspect'' authors.

We may be on the verge of a long-awaited breakthrough in resolving international tensions. Limiting our access to information and discussion will only impede that process. Marion Bridgman Billings Cambridge, Mass.

As a mail-order shopper from childhood, having been brought up with the catalogs of Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck & Co. next to the dictionary, I read your article on mail-order shopping with interest (Nov. 1). I order books, clothing, Christmas gifts, and stamps (from the Philatelic Division of the US Postal Service) regularly, enclosing my personal check in prepayment. Despite the fact that I've never been overdrawn on my checking account and my checks are good, I'm now waiting since May for a recording, and since August for some clothing!

I don't know the real reason for these delays, but previously I've discovered there may be discrimination in favor of those who use telephone services and credit cards, rather than cash (check) prepayment. Is this fair? Catherine Sarnelli Levittown, N.Y.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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