Your Letters: From Boxing Bros To Iowa Polls

Host Scott Simon reads from listener letters about his interview with boxing's Klitschko brothers, a look at Republican presidential contenders ahead of next year's Iowa caucuses and clarifying who, exactly, is Dashiell Hammett's Thin Man.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for your letters.

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SIMON: Last week, we spoke with NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea. He was in Iowa talking to voters about Republican presidential contenders ahead of the 2012 presidential caucuses.

Ela Messer of Huxley, Iowa, writes: It is common knowledge in Iowa that the Republican straw poll is a fundraiser and that the caucuses are a platform of candidate advocacy. When a candidate spends big on buses and tickets and wins, it's no surprise. When a candidate spends big and loses that's a big surprise and signal. It's probably always a safe bet that the candidate that inspires advocacy is the one who will win the Iowa caucuses.

Mike Baum of McFarland, Wisconsin commented on our interview with the authors of a story in the book, "Jane Austin Made Me Do It." They described the characters in their story as a combination of Jane Austin and Nick and Nora Charles.

He writes that the authors kept talking as if Nick were the thin man of the title. That's true in the movies, he says, but not in the original novel by Dashiell Hammett. He points out the thin man in the novel was the reclusive inventor whose disappearance drives the plot. The authors' reference to Hammett's "Thin Man" stories refer to something that doesn't exist. Hammett wrote one novel under that title, that's it. He adds, Thanks, I've been wanting to get the Thin Man thing off my chest for years.

We spoke with Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, brothers who hold Ph.D.'s and boxing titles. There's a new documentary about them called "Klitschko." I asked why they've said they'd never compete against each other in the ring. They said because they promised their mother, and added...

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO: But I have a question for you.

SIMON: Yes?

KLITSCHKO: Why do you want to see this fight?

SIMON: You know, I don't actually. I don't. I don't mind telling you, it's not up to me, but I would be appalled by that.

Carol Newlin of Seattle asks: why is it appalling to suggest that two brothers who are both champion boxers might compete in a bout with one another? Why don't you want to see them compete? Why would not a contest between brothers in tennis, or gymnastics or even on opposing football teams be similarly appalling?

A purely personal answer, Ms. Newlin, is unlike tennis or gymnastics, people try to hurt each other in boxing, not just do better than each other. I'd just rather not watch brothers do that.

We welcome your questions and comments. To write us, visit our website, NPR.org, and click on the Contact Us link. We're on Facebook and Twitter at NPRWeekend. My Twitter handle, NPRScottSimon.

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SIMON: This is NPR News.

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