For some reason, RALPH seems to attract an inordinate number of Outraged Letters.
God knows why, since we always see ourselves on the side of reason, logic, and, perhaps, the angels.
We have here collected some of the most articulate, libelous, or merely insulting emails that have come our way. If you click on the title for the links, you can read for yourself the review or article that inspired such ire.

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Pet Cemeteries

Dear Lolita Lark:
Wars are being declared, the countryside is being destroyed, poverty is stalking young and old alike --- and you write a review of a book on Pet Cemeteries. Can anything be so trivial?

Don't get me wrong. I have a smelly dog, a sick cat, a noisy canary, and (in my garden) an army of slugs. If any of the first three die, I will probably be sad. I care for them and they care for me.

But the world is falling apart, the ozone layer is now history over the north and south poles, once-happy people are going postal, your SUV is pouring out enough particulate matter to destroy your lungs (and mine, too) and sometime soon someone will have yet another nuclear bomb --- and RALPH gives us a review of dead bunnies, ducks and puppies. Don't you have any perspective?

--- les122@aol.com


Your review of David Brancaccio was really an attack on National Public Radio. You should have lived before there was a NPR. Our radio dial was terrible. For those of us who are bed-ridden, it is a life-saver.

It sounds to me that your reviewer is bitter. Maybe he is a frustrated broadcaster, someone who couldn't make it himself in radio. Why don't you find people who will be fair, won't show off their big words, and will actually read the books they are reviewing? We do, sir, live in a capitalistic economy.

If you don't like it, you can always emigrate to Cuba. Try Radio Havana for a few months.

--- Esteban Fuentes


I read another of your mindless articles on Mexico.

There are other countries in the world that you might want to write about.

For instance, there is France, China, or Upper Volta.

Open you little piggy eyes to the rest of the world for a change.

---H. Winkler

From: Sybil True
To: poo@cts.com
Subject: Fun 'n' Frolic in Albuquerque

The City of Albuquerque provides bread and circuses to its citizens in the form of Saturday evening ethnic festivals. Last Saturday was Native American Night, and we sipped our beer and ogled the huge crowd sweating, jostling, listening to music.

We saw a woman so wonderful that I can't let it pass without writing about her. She was a Native American, black hair to her waist, cowboy hat, low cut shirt, tight metal concha belt, turquoise jewelry. But the best accessory, and the one I'm really writing you about, was a bullet-wound scar at the top of her thigh, just below the hem of her shorts. Her hand naturally fell over this inch-deep hole, and every once in a while, she would idly insert her fingertip, sometimes in time with the music.

--- S. True

Dear Miss Lark,

Why don't you put new reviews and articles in your ratty little magazine? I get tired of looking and finding only the same articles week after week. Salon changes its articles.

Back when A. W. Allworthy was running things, things were better.

--- Irate Reader

Our editor replies:

Salon has a capital base of $40,000,000, and 180 writers, editors, and staff.

RALPH has a capital base of $400, a 1912 wood-burning computer, and a few anarchistic, paranoid, drunken, debased --- possibly even imaginary --- part-time writers. What more can you expect from such a bunch of misanthropes?

--- Ed.


In a recent review in your magazine --- concerning A Stubborn Light --- your reviewer wrote, "Readers occasionally accuse it of wallowing in masochism and pain to the exclusion of the joys and wonders of life. This is ridiculous. The Sun is an important resource for those of us who want to study up on woe."

This is typical of your arrogant one might say pitiless school of reviewing.

Are we to assume that there is no grief in life? Are we to believe that life is nothing but bacon and eggs, peaches and cream, eclairs and torts? Maybe your reviewer is so above it all that he has no knowledge of pain.

If that is so, why don't you fire him? Maybe if he's on the dole for a change, instead of feeding at the literary trough, he will be able to go out in life, learn what it is all about, learn what it is like to suffer.

--- hlfrancis33@aol.com



The reviewer of Malignant Self Love is either a Narcissist himself (intimated by his inability to give credibikltiy to Dr. Sam bwecause he is not a health professionalo) or as is mor elikely simply totally ignorant of the subject matter at hand namely DSM IV CLuster B Personality Disorders. The book Malignat Self Love and his site by the same name are SPOT-ON and INVALUABLE to people like me who have been vicitmized by intimate relationship with a sufferer of Narcissistic Persoanlity Disorders.

Paul Recher

Our reviewer, Michael Ingall, responds:

Halo yourself.

Or as they used to sing in the shampoo commercials on the radio when I was a boy,

Halo, everybody, Halo!
Halo is the shampoo that glorifies your hair,
So Halo, everybody, Halo!

I note that the letter comes from Austria. Could it be....Vienna? Could it be....Berggasse 19? Bist du Siggie?


I just read your review of The Love You Promised Me by Silvia Molina.

Ms. Molina is one of the promising lights in Latino writing. For you to try to destroy her with cute words and show-off comments ("Reading this, we must ask if Ms. Molina is being paid as Dickens was --- by the word...") is arrogant, not to say stupid.

Why don't you pick on someone your own size?

--- G. F. W. Walters


I don't know who the person was that wrote the review on Richie Havens new book, but they must be under 20 and not able to read. His story is fantastic, his insites into politics and the feeling we all shared during the 60's was "right on". The lyrics of the songs were a step to the past. I guess you would have to live it to understand it.

---David Blatt


The Photographic History of World War II your reviewer said,

    In the fire and blood and general mayhem sweepstakes, World War II was a doozer.

I am not sure what you are saying. Do you mean that war is something you might think of it like the state lottery? What's a "doozer " that word isn't in my Websters. Does that mean it was a good thing? Or maybe you are makeing fun of the Soldiers and Sailors and Marines and the people on the homefront who saved this country from the Nazis and the Japs from being raped and killed and conquered. If you have a problem with what we did maybe we could get together and I could show you what I went through so creeps like you could make fun of the war we did for you, so you could have freedom to say stupid things. Maybe youd look good in one of those stripe concentration camp suits.

--- R. F. Lacey


I was shocked and disgusted by your lack of empathy for a devastating mental illness. I doubt that you would have been so callous if the author had written about cancer or some 'acceptable' illness. The sad truth is that many mental illnesses, anorexia and bulimia included, are still looked upon as shameful. Many so-called 'professionals' do not understand these illnesses, and are ill-prepared to deal with them, to help their patients cope; the worst part is that a large majority will not admit to this.

I should know. I am in university studying psychology, but I also live with depression, self-injury, an eating disorder not otherwise specified, along with a few others. It is not unusual to see mental illnesses grouped together, especially in the case of depression and eating disorders. My personal experience has not been up to par. I've been told that this is merely a phase that I should grow out of. This is the kind of treatment that thousands of women and men receive when they seek out support. And the public wonders why we hide this.

Your review was in bad taste, and I would suggest that you either remove it entirely, or find someone a little less biased to write a new copy. I read the book, and I found it to be an incredibly accurate portrayal of eating disorders. By leaving this review on your website, you are promoting the misguided belief that mental illnesses are something to be ashamed of. In truth, they are no worse than cancer or a physical deformity.

Don't treat us as beneath you. One in every 6 North Americans has or will be diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

--- Cheers,


Wouldn't it be worthwhile for you and your writers to do something constructive now and again besides beat on America, Americans, and American publishing?

My definition of your magazine is "peculiar." Or would you prefer "puerile?"

I hope you are smart enough to figure out what it means. It rhymes with "phew."

Meanwhile think about getting a life. Or, even better, a job.

--- A. A. Leventhal



I am a 21yo M offering a $50,000 reward to help me take my life back.

If you are a Time Traveler who has the Dimensional Warp Generator #52 4350a wrist watch, the XK memo replica or similar technology I need your help.

I must return my mind to my former self so that I can take back my life which has been destroyed by the evil aliens. They have done Terrible, Terrible things to me starting with nanaprobe tracers, mind-transducers that she slipped into my food, and now I am fighting and dying of CJD.

I have known two others who were messed with by these same evil beings, returned to there former self, foiled their schemes and successfully taken there life's back.

If you can help please email me at:


Dear Lolita Clark,

Westward Ha! is my favorite book and I enjoyed reading your perceptive review of this neglected masterpiece. I was so impressed that I immediately decided to take out a subscription to your journal.

But it seems that all the "links" on your web-page have expired. When I entered Ralph Magazine into a search engine I was directed to an Australian "Girlie" journal. Not exactly what I expected.

Could you send me subscription information for your journal (not the Australian one...)?

--- Sincerely,
Jonathan Brodie

Dear Jonathan:

Yikes. You are right. Even our best friends didn't tell us.

A peek at the other RALPH shows that, instead of vigorous poetry, they are into vigorous body parts:

    Amy Erbacher - we're glad to have her back (plus all those other gorgeous body parts) in RALPH!

There are also big (and vague) Darwinian "victories" for the beer fridge set:

    Tell us about your biggest victory for the male species and win a home theatre system ... perfect for watching movies within easy reach of the beer fridge.

Finally, for those of us who have a hankering to be in pictures:

    Think you have what it takes to be a RALPH babe?

    You could be the next Imogen Bailey, Erin Normoyle or Nikki Visser!

    OK then! For details, click here!

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This other RALPH, we've discovered, is run by some outfit called ninemsn, "Australia's number-one website, capturing the largest online audience in Australia."

And guess who runs it? Mama mia!

    Formed in 1997, ninemsn is a 50:50 joint venture between the Microsoft Corporation and PBL's online investment arm, ecorp.

What to do? We've been humble-pie literary RALPH since we started in 1994, eons in internet time. The new passion-pit RALPH turns out to be a step-child of the colossus to the north, and has been around only for micro-seconds.

Some of our readers may feel that they are dragging down our good name but, for better or worse, that already happened, decades ago --- long before they (or we) came on the scene.

According to Richard A. Spears' Dictionary of American Slang,

    ralph and rolf --- intransitive --- to empty one's stomach; to vomit (Teens and collegiate. See also cry ruth.) She went home and ralphed for an hour. I think I am going to rolf.

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What to do? We recall that old saw --- we don't care what you say about us, just be sure you spell our name right. But what do you do when a beer-in-the-cooler girls-in-bikinis magazine snitches your moniker. Cry ruth?

We could go directly the editor, emphasize that we were here first. Perhaps they would then stick us in a subsection they feature:

    What's up in RALPH? Check out this month, next month and our sick site links at In The Mag.

If we were listed in one of their "sick sites," it would certainly doll up our monthly hit list --- what, in the trade, are called "site visitors." RALPH le hot claims 200,000 a day. RALPH père is lucky if it can pull in 6,000. With their help, however, perhaps we can go to the stars. In the arms of Imogen Bailey, Erin Normoyle or Nikki Visser. Or even that chanteuse, Lolita Clark.

By-the-bye --- there are no expired links to our magazine. In the interests of purity, we have always used the sobriquet RALPH: The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities. Not RALPH (or ROLF) Magazine.

--- Sexcerely yours,
Lolita Lark


I want to purchase Sailing Alone Around the World. Can you tell me where to get it? Thanks.

This message is for the use of the intended recipient only. It is from a law firm and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, future distribution, or use of this communication is prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please advise us by return e-mail, or if you have received this communication by fax advise us by telephone and delete/destroy the document.

--- Dorothy Bowles

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Dear Ms. Bowles:

Thank you for your e-mail.

Your letter tells us that it comes "from a law firm and may contain information that is privileged and confidential." Further, if it turns out that we are not "the intended recipient," that "any disclosure, copying, future distribution, or use of this communication is prohibited." Finally, if we did receive it in error, we are told that we must ring you up and at the same time, "delete/destroy the document." Whew.

Since we are but a lowly book review magazine and not necessarily in the book-buying referral service, we have no idea in the world if we are the intended recipient of your letter. In addition --- from what we have heard of modern computers --- God alone knows if we can "delete/destroy" the message you sent us.

We've been led to understand that nothing can be erased from these miserable machines. Even when you think your words have been sent off to cyber-heaven, old messages can hide there in the smoky backrooms of the memory bank, lollygagging around in the bowels to, some day, jump out and scare you to death. Certain peoples involved in nefarious activities have learned this to their dismay.

Thus, even if we hit the delete button, your letter may still be noodling around in our computer's hyperspace, a veritable Frankenstein to rise up and haunt us sometime in the misty future.

Having said all that, we've decided to take the high road. We are thus prepared to swear, avow, and affirm that we are not now nor have been a book referral business, but, because of our passionate devotion to the cause of literature and most especially because of our affection for the book by the good Captain Joshua Slocum --- we take our misgivings in hand and inform you that despite any and all possible consequences, and to the best of our knowledge, there is a book service that we have used many times in the past, a confederation, as it were, of small book stores, just the kind of book stores that we (and possibly you) might want to support --- bookstores that survive to counterbalance those flashy chains where the clerks can't tell a Josh Slocum from a Stephen King (and neither from Oprah); and who certainly could never differentiate between Sailing Alone Around the World and Chicken Soup for the Brain-Pan.

It's called the Advanced or Alternative (or Autonomous, or Automated) Book Exchange, or ABE, and can be found at


We would like to affirm our sincere hope that by sharing this information with you we are not being gratuitously felonious, although, given our immense affection for books, especially old and graceful ones like Sailing Alone Around the World, we would gladly be willing to serve a limited time in the pokey if it would further the cause of bibliophilia in these our troubled times.

--- Lolita Lark

Dear Lolita (is that your real name?):

Thank you very much for your very entertaining reply to my e-mail. I love it! People in my law firm keep telling me to C R E A T E my own fax cover sheet, instead of using the firm's, for personal faxes. And I keep forgetting to do it. But today after receiving your message, I know that I have to do it. And so I have. The next time I fax you anything, if there is a next time, it will be on a personal sheet. Again, thank you for making me laugh. And thank you for the info about the book.

This message is for the use of the intended recipient only. It is from a law firm and may contain information that is privileged and confidential. If you are not the intended recipient any disclosure, copying, future distribution, or use of this communication is prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please advise us by return e-mail, or if you have received this communication by fax advise us by telephone and delete/destroy the document.

--- Dorothy Bowles

Mr. James Macpherson, ---

I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence offered me I shall do my best to repel and what I cannot do for myself, the law shall do for me. I hope I shall not be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat by the menaces of a ruffian.

What would you have me retract? I thought your book an imposture; I think it an imposture still. For this opinion I have given my reasons to the public, which I here dare you to refute. Your rage I defy. Your abilities, since your Homer, are not so formidable: and what I hear of your morals inclines me to pay regard, not to what you shall say, but to what you shall prove. You may print this if you will.

[Being a Letter from Samuel Johnson to James Macpherson, February 7, 1775]


That Carolyn Kizer poem about her daughter was about her 8 year-old-child, not a grown person sententimentalized in the pit.

As Meow Tse-Tung used to say: no investigation, no right to speak.

--- A Bullitt

To the Crank Letter Editor:

In reference to your review of Stephen Budiansky's "The Truth About Dogs."

Who IS that dork?

Most of his rabid misinformation about dogs could be more aptly applied to the anklebiters of his own species.

Sheesh what a parasite!

--- Paco,
aka The Yellow Dog

Dear Mr. Singer:

I write regarding your review --- or rather your lack of a review --- of Miss Moffett's First Year.

I find you views very offensive regarding the New York Teaching Fellows Program. We no longer live in Draconian times where we can "...beat the shit out of recalcitrant, noisy, and out-of-control students." This isn't New York City of Tammany Hall days, you know.

Your negative, cynical, pessimistic attitude is a direct consequence of personal experience of "fanny-warmers" and "knuckle swats."

Stick to reviewing books and leave the education of tomorrow's generations to professionals. That is, if you can keep on task.

--- C. J. Rawlings

[No reference given]
To: poo@cts.com:
Subject: you are an idiot

why do you do that?

--- raffoste@libero.it


Read The Fountainhead some time. You are like that.

I could not believe that review of the Mount Rushmore sculptor.

What's wrong with you?

--- Steven E. Romer

[No reference given]


you are weird

ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwnies faget

lol lol lol

--- DPrePrep@aol.com

Dear Lolita,

I had a drink with Lindbergh once in a bedroom of the Waldorf.

We talked for an hour or so.

He was a good conversationalist, with an interest in things he was able to share.

I liked him a lot. He was in his sixties and he was still handsome.

So cut Lindy a little slack, will you?

--- Hugh Gallagher

Miss Lonelyhearts:

I am kind of ashamed to write you because a man like me don't take stock in things like that but my wife told me you were a man and not some dopey woman so I thought I would write to you after reading your answer to "Disillusioned."

--- Yours truly,
Peter Doyle