Thursday, September 8, 2016

Porblem* (for Problem*)

For some of us, it can be a bit of a problem. They say you shouldn't give advice unless you've been asked for it; some would advise you not to take too freely the advice of others; and most would concur that it's unwise to act as one's own counsel in a court of law. But when you tire of "trying cases in the media"—which is to say, reading yet another grim or gruesome story in the news—you can always turn to the frequently helpful and often delightfully written "advice column," a genre made famous in the 1933 novel Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathanael West. Born Nathan Weinstein, West set the stage, as it were (the film version, Lonelyhearts, starring Montgomery Clift, recently aired on TCM), for a slew of "agony aunts" to come. Though some are still published in the paper, most advice columns today can be easily found online. The mere salutations in a letter to Cheryl Strayed ("Dear Sugar...") would probably start melting your problems away before you could even put down your pen. Some of my other favorites include "Miss Manners"; "Dear Prudence"; "Savage Love"; and, though she hasn't made it onto Wikipedia quite yet, "Dear Carolyn" (along, of course, with any grammar ones I can get my hands on). Long gone, but eagerly consulted as well, were Cynthia Heimel's "Problem Lady" and "Since You Asked" by Cary Tennis. My advice to you is to take all their advice, even if somebody else had to ask for it first. And don't thank me. It's no problem. Today's typo turned up five times in OhioLINK, and 266 times in WorldCat.

(Cover of first UK edition of Miss Lonelyhearts, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

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