A Passion for Words

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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, U.S.

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., U.S.

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

You're the Top!
Kudos to Joel Stein for addressing the antielitism "cancer" [Bring On the Elites!, Aug. 23]. I'm sure he'll be inundated with complaints by the very tweeting, reality-TV-obsessed misspellers he has denounced, but his article is right on. Our embrace of mediocrity as leadership is a toxin that needs to be expelled.
Stephen Ziemba, ROSWELL, GA., U.S.

In his effort to defend elitism, Stein has once again accomplished the opposite. Some of his good points lie buried beneath self-important fluff and an apparent obsession with brand-name institutions. If being "in a lot of ways better" means writing self-indulgent articles, I'll keep my diploma from the less prestigious college.
Andrew Kim, COLORADO SPRINGS

Poverty Fuels Terrorism
Michael Mandelbaum's Commentary, on reducing oil dependency in the U.S. in order to "shrink" the economic power of the Middle East as a way to prevent the growth of terrorism, ignores one of the main ingredients for the propagation of terrorism [Shrinking the Middle East, Aug. 23]. One lesson to learn from Southeast Asia is that the growth of terrorist cells is largely fueled by poverty and economic hardship.
Edmund U.H. Sim, KOTA SAMARAHAN, MALAYSIA

While Mandelbaum contends that lower oil prices would weaken the U.S.'s enemies, they would also mean that rival China would enjoy cheaper oil to fuel its growth. They would also undermine U.S.-friendly Middle East autocracies that rely on oil money, giving rise to hostile tribal factions or Islamic fundamentalists.
Suh Joon, SEOUL