Dear Lisabeth Kirk,
I have been a friend of Swain Wolfe for many years (since 1989) and over the years have come to understand the distance that he places between himself and others which you characterized as caginess. But with your review of Swain's latest work ("Swain Wolfe is at the door," feature, vol. 9, no. 40) you did not clearly state whether you really did or did not like the story, which is the crux of a review.
I think that to truly try to inform the reader about who Swain is you would need to spend more time talking to him about things other than his work. He does tend to be somewhat oblique at all times, not just in regards to his works. His feelings about the world, which are embedded within both The Woman Who Lives in the Earth and The Lake Dreams the Sky, tend to fall within the scope of emotions and hence they really are not something that can be described simply with words but by viewing the emotions contained within the actions of his stories.
When you listen to Swain tell a personal story, one must take into account why he is telling this story at that specific time. I, for one, wish you had talked about the mysteries of this world, the unanswerables, that are the foci of his works. The metaphor of the lake, its animacy, and the role that the environment plays throughout both of his novels. In each novel there is a wise woman who reads the actions of the day and life via the sky and the animals; what he is writing is more related to magical realism than the romance genre.
For all the knowledge we "know" about our universe, our universe could still simply be within the atoms of some greater giant's fingernail. What I intend to say is that what Swain writes about is the mystery of life and love, and ultimately about that world which we do not control. If you listen to the words you yourself quoted from your interview with Swain, you will note that he talks about the story writing itself through his voice. You are correct in believing that he is definitely a smart writer, who has written a book that is sellable, but it is sellable due to the fact that he holds together a perspective that is quite different from most "romance" novelists.
He is not writing a story to sell it per say, but to write about and discuss questions we humans have been trying to explain since our cognition that we do not control the world no matter how much we try to explain it. These words are not intended to insult your own writing, but to point out that when you are discussing a work of art and its artist you should make the attempt to understand why the art is creating itself and what it is trying to say to those who view it.
Shawn Farrell, via email Istanbul, Turkey
Dear Letters to the Editor,
I just finished reading the article about Peter Kostmayer in the Sept. 24 issue of the Independent ("Ex-lawmaker urges greens not to breed," Info., vol. 9, no. 39). To quote Mr. Kostmayer, "All environmental issues-water quality, air quality, wilderness conservation-underlying all of those is human population growth. And the interesting thing about human population growth is that it is solvable."
In this regard Mr. Kostmayer is absolutely correct. However, he states that if you want to save the earth, wearing condoms and using birth control can be as effective as lobbying Congress on environmental issues.
The problem in the U.S. today is not solely that we are limiting our family size to 2.1 children, basically replacement levels. The main problem is that Congress changed our immigration laws in 1965. Now, instead of 180,000 immigrants arriving in the U.S. per year, there are 1.2 million legal and illegal immigrants arriving per year. Those 1 million additional immigrants per year, plus their descendants, represents 60 percent of the U.S. population growth today, and in 20 years will be 90 percent of our population growth.
The U.S. is now the third most populous country in the world, right after China and India. We are the fasting growing developed nation in the world, and we allow higher immigration levels than all of the other developed countries combined.
The change in U.S. immigration laws in 1965 has resulted in 32 million more people in this country, or equal to the population of California. If we hadn't had to build all those houses, strip malls, roads, schools (now one new elementary school each day in California), would our forests here in Montana have been clear cut, would we be resentful of all those Californians moving in, more traffic, spotlights, etc.?
While Mr. Kostmayer refuses to recognize that immigration is the problem here in the U.S., it will double our population in 50 short years to 1/2 billion U.S. citizens. China and India had a population of 1/2 billion in 1950. Would you want to live in China or India today? Then why are we condemning our children and grandchildren to an overcrowded future? Urge your representatives and senators to reinstate our historic immigration laws to allow no more than 180,000 immigrants into the U.S. per year.
Ward B. McCartney III Whitefish, Montana