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Literary Smackdown by Velvet Glove

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There's a great letter to the editor in the Sunday, August 26 New York Times Book Review section that bears reproducing in full:

To the Editor:

I realize your reviewer Jeff Turrentine (Aug. 5) was trying to be kind when describing the excellent work of the American writer Manuel Muñoz as "too rich to be classified under the limiting rubrics of 'gay' or 'Chicano' fiction."

Imagine if I were reviewing John Updike and said, "His stories are far too rich to be classified under the limiting rubrics of 'heterosexual,' 'upper-class,' 'white' fiction; they have a softly glowing, melancholy beauty that transcends those categories and makes them universal."

Sandra Cisneros

San Antonio

A friend of mine jabbed that Updike, a creature of the northeast, hasn't traveled farther than 50 miles from Harvard Yard in decades while remaining a "national" and even an "international" novelist. Cisneros, raised in Chicago and now living in Texas, explores multiculturalism in her stories, and society's inherent patriarchal nature, yet is somehow pegged as "regional" in her work.

I greatly appreciate how Updike has captured his milieu, but much of his stuff automatically earns the broad brush of cultural universalism from the cognoscenti and the dwindling reading public while other slices of the American pie do not.

I wonder why that is, and Cisneros deserves thanks for deftly bringing it to our attention.