Dave Powell

Pissing on PopCo


Rachel Aviv's review of my book PopCo [October 19–25] is, to paraphrase the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, not even wrong.

I have had positive and negative reviews over the years, but never one that so dishonestly misrepresents one of my books. I am not a New Puritan (that book was a one-off experiment in which I played a very minor part); neither am I capable of writing a 500-page book in the style of an e-mail. All of Aviv's quotes are inaccurate or attributed to the wrong person. I would have expected better things from The Village Voice than a reviewer who seems to lack the intellectual capacity required to read anything more complicated than an e-mail and who clearly did little more than skim my novel.

Scarlett Thomas
Canterbury, England

Rachel Aviv replies: I've thoroughly checked every quote in the review and found one mistake: During a conversation about becoming a vegan, the heroine did not say "fucking hell, I can't eat an animal that can play videogames," but rather agreed with a friend who said it. I regret this error and how it may have affected Scarlett Thomas's opinion of The Village Voice.

Regarding her other complaints, I did not say that Thomas was a New Puritan, but wrote that five years ago she and other authors founded a movement that "soon dissolved." Whether or not a book is "as casual as an e-mail" is a matter of opinion.

Growing pains

Thank you for publishing Jennifer Gonnerman's accurate and sensitive story on women who self-injure in prisons ["Tanisha's Scars," October 5–11]. The American public, filled with sympathy and grief for young children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse, never seems able to retain any sympathy or grief for these children as they grow up, or even realize that they do grow up.

Girls who are sexually abused often live in places where they can't talk about what happened. There is nowhere for them to go, so they live in silence and cut. Many women who go to emergency rooms after cutting themselves are treated with revulsion and contempt, not the compassion they deserve when exhibiting the telltale signs of the unspeakable secret injuries they suffered as children. The revulsion and contempt may in fact be greater than that reserved for child molesters. Women who cut are restrained in psychiatric hospitals, forcibly tied down by their hands and feet, which often does nothing but replicate their childhood trauma. Women also self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, and many of these women, like the subject of Jennifer Gonnerman's article, end up in prison.

Susan Stefan
Newton, Massachusetts


Due to production scheduling, in some editions of last week's 50th anniversary issue, Alisa Solomon's essay "Our Hearts Were Young and Gay" reported that The Village Voice was rumored to be facing a merger with New Times. That planned merger was officially announced as the issue went to press.

James Ridgeway's "The Life of Miers" [Mondo Washington, October 19–25] inadvertently mis-stated the focus of Lorlee Bartos's activism. She is a liberal activist, not a gay activist, as we reported.

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