The Loop

Ill humor at the Times
Edith Lank, a local real-estate columnist, wonders why the New York Times Book Review found her recent letter amusing.
In her letter, published in the March 19 issue, Lank writes: “Maybe it’s just that I was over-tired, but reading the Feb. 26 Book Review late at night, I found myself becoming more and more depressed. The following morning I ran an analysis of the headlines, subheads and book titles in that issue, to see if I might just have imagined a distinctly down trend.”
Lank found 41 discouraging words, from obvious downers like “hopeless” and “blighted” to marginal calls like “odd” and “lost.” She counted less than a dozen upbeat words.
Lank closed her letter by asking: “Does all this reflect the state of the world, current authors’ general turn of mind, pessimism on the part of those who choose books for review, a bad day for your headline writers–or just coincidence?”
Shortly before publication, a Book Review editor left a message on Lank’s answering machine, saying: “This is a very funny letter.”
“I was very serious,” Lank insists. “I’m still trying to figure out what he meant.”
(Write, e-mail or call Mary Morgan at 546-8303 with tips, rumors, inside information or strange tales for The Loop.)

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