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A Passion for Words

Thank you so much for the article on Jonathan Franzen by Lev Gross ... man [Aug. 23]. (I had torn so many pieces from the article, I had to patch it back together to see who the author was.) I have a new reading list to catch up on. One of my torn pieces, on Kierkegaard's concept of busyness--"that constant distraction ... from difficult realities"--will be my explanation for leaving Facebook.

Dale Brubeck, COLUMBUS, OHIO

John Irving's The World According to Garp--a sprawling, neo-Dickensian popular novel of exactly the kind that Grossman praises Franzen for writing--was the strongest novel of the 1970s and an inescapable book for Franzen's generation of readers and writers. That this great American novelist (and former TIME cover subject) goes unmentioned in your cover story--which details, in part, his legacy--is puzzling.

Gregory Knapp, CHICAGO

Franzen's reflections on the proper way to read--i.e., "seriously"--is condescending and diminishes the enjoyment of a very personal act. And given the near renaissance that reading is undergoing with the advent of e-books and increased library use, I found your article's negativity quite discordant with the times.

Hillary S. Kativa, NORRISTOWN, PA.

Pulitzer Prize--winning author Jane Smiley is arguably one of the best contemporary American novelists--if not the best. Yet she was not only passed over as a writer deserving of the cover of TIME but was also excluded even from the list of old, less-old and less-old-yet literary luminaries. What a reminder that the people who have defined and continue to define the canon of great American authors can be narrow in their outlook.

Faith Dornbrand, POTOMAC, MD.

An FDA Scandal

TIME's story on Avandia and the FDA unfairly misrepresents GlaxoSmithKline's efforts to understand Avandia's heart-safety profile [Aug. 23]. Avandia remains by far the most widely studied oral medicine for Type 2 diabetes introduced in the past 10 years. As FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg noted in a letter to Congress this March, GSK itself took the initiative to study a potential link between Avandia and heart attack and other cardiovascular complications and submitted an analysis to the FDA back in 2005. Since then, additional trials and data analyses have been completed. FDA advisory committees in 2007 and again last month reviewed the extensive data, and although opinions varied widely each time, above the din, clear voting majorities concluded that Avandia should remain available to patients under appropriate conditions.

Moncef Slaoui, Chairman, Research and Development, GlaxoSmithKline, PHILADELPHIA

Congratulations on the excellent investigative journalism on Avandia. The FDA certainly did not do its job. And GlaxoSmithKline should be prosecuted.

Richard Trench, SAN ANTONIO

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