Letters: Willy Loman and 'The Dude'

Scott Simon reads from listener e-mails, including a comment on an "In Character" profile of Willy Loman of Death of a Salesman and praise for another immortal character, "The Dude" of Coen brothers' fame.

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You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

Time now for your letters.

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SIMON: First a correction. A number of listeners wrote in about our conversation about FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We said that the act was set to expire last Saturday night. Actually it was only a particular portion of FISA called the Protect America Act that was about to expire. I apologize for the misinformation.

Our interview with Steve McKee last week, the author of "My Father's Heart," prompted many to write in with their own memories. Nancy Harnett (ph) of Dixon, Nebraska noted, my children just lost their father to a lifelong struggle with alcoholism. I deeply appreciated Mr. McKee's remembrance of the coach that told him you will never get over it, but you will get used to it. I shared this observation with my children and they were grateful.

William Degons (ph) of Lewisburg, West Virginia adds, as someone who lost both parents at age 16, I listened to Scott Simon's interview with Steve McKee with interest. It took many years for me to figure out what Mr. McKee's coach wisely told him.

Our February 2nd, in character, look at Willy Loman, the traveling salesman on Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" also drew a lot of mail. When I say Lee J. Cobb, played Willy Loman in a 1965 television broadcast, so powerful was the performance that art and reality merged in my life, wrote Paul Pluth (ph) of Greenback, Washington.

I spent the next year fearing for my father, worried he might despair and end up like our neighbor, Willy Loman. When I finally told my father of my fears, he shared with me the joys and triumphs of being a salesman, but over 40 years later I have never been able to bring myself to watch another performance.

Finally, a note about my suggestion a few weeks ago that the Cohen brothers, whom we interviewed, had gone on to make quite a few good films since "Big Lebowski." And maybe some of the film's fans might want to move on with their lives too. Ed Kelly (ph) of Athens, Georgia responded, by most any measure, the Cohens are among our culture's strongest contributors. Is there an expiration date on artistic genius? Shall we also abandon our quoting of Shakespeare, Wilde, and Dickens because of the age on those works? I think not. The Dude most certainly will abide. Well, my apologies. The Dude, the Bard - truly brothers.

We welcome your letters, comments, recollections and corrections. Go to our Web site and click on npr.org/letters. Please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name, and we'll try to abide too.

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