Letters to the Editor

There Are No Bad Books, Only Bad Writers;No New Is Good New;The Pleasure of Pain; Corrections

There Are No Bad Books, Only Bad Writers

A novel approach: It was with much amusement that I read Mark Athitakis' article on romance novels, "That Secret Shame" (July 25). My partner and I have been the proprietors of West Portal Books in S.F. for nearly 10 years, and our best-selling category has been romance. When we began our store I was a bit of a snob about the genre and didn't want it taking up shelf space. My partner convinced me otherwise. Romance novels are consistent sellers, and over the years I've gotten to know how to spot trends and separate the wheat from the chaff. I must take issue with a couple of points in the article: Regency romances are not necessarily the "province of older readers." I sell a lot of them to teenagers and twentysomethings, and those that buy them are not only voracious readers of the subgenre, but they seem to be hard-core collectors as well. Regencies are hard to keep on the shelf.

Also, romance is not really a tough sell in S.F. What is tough is to get stores to stock them. I'm happy that most of my "independent" colleagues look down their noses at the romance novel. Actually, it's great that people are reading anything these days, and as far as I'm concerned, the romance reader's money is as good as the "literary" reader's, perhaps even better because there's more of them.

Jeffrey A. Goodman
West Portal

In prison, you'll have more time to write: First off, I'm not the same Kate Moore interviewed for your recent article on the romance genre. Kate's terrific, but unfortunately she got our name first. A friend forwarded your article to me, and I loved it. However, when you talk about romance authors not getting any respect, try being a romance author who publishes electronically. I'm in print now, but if I hear one more person say, "Oh, you finally wrote a realbook," I'll probably be arrested for murder. Your article is one of the first I've seen that doesn't rely on old clichés and sexist patter to make its point. I appreciate the opportunity to [read] something positive about the industry. Thanks again for a terrific article.

Kate Moore (writing as Kate Douglas)
Midland, Texas

No New Is Good New

Down with up-zoning: If the rezoning of Rincon Hill were to be taken in a vacuum as John Mecklin does ("Out With the New, In With the Old," July 25), then sure, up-zoning for dense residential would be OK. But there is no process for analyzing the cumulative impacts of all planned developments along the waterfront, in Rincon Hill, and at Transbay.

Jim Chappell [president of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association] is a nice guy, but there are times when his commitment to urban redevelopment eclipses his sense of balanced planning, and the advisory committees that he mentions are handpicked and balkanized by the mayor and Redevelopment Agency and are generally stacked not with local residents but with development boosters with too much time on their hands.

And then there is the luxury component of the proposal. If developers are going to insist on building solely for the luxury market to maximize profit, then [the] Planning [Department] is issuing permits for the whittling down of class diversity. Until we can find ways to coerce mixed-class housing out of for-profit developers, it makes sense to oppose a luxury high-rise in a neighborhood lacking residential amenities and services.

There is no housing crisis for the rich. Yet Mecklin asks us to support more luxury housing as an antidote for the housing crisis that is most critical at the subluxury levels.

Marc Salomon
North Mission

Facing reality: I wholeheartedly agree with your latest column about the parable of San Francisco. I believe the city has an admirable legacy of activism and a history of uniqueness. But it's crazy to think San Francisco should remain stagnant and not address its most pressing concerns. I know Chris Daly and many of his friends, and I believe they have good intentions. But I would also like them to peer into the future and tell me how their vision of San Francisco will accommodate the realities that face us. I hope people understand that we are not selling the soul of San Francisco every time we erect a new building. Keep up the good work.

Name Withheld
Sunset

We hope your HMO covers NIMBYism: I am on the same page with you when it comes to NIMBYism. I am so fed up with it that I actually considered moving from the Bay Area for the first time in my life last year.

Homeless shelters, mental health clinics, nightclubs, large-scale development of any sort, residential or commercial, it's always the same story. No one has the guts to say, "I am looking out for No. 1, and this sort of thing is not good for property values in the neighborhood," or "I just don't want to deal with the potential headaches this is going to create on my block." They all come up with 101 completely "objective" reasons why it should not be built next door to their home. Even if they don't own their home. Even if they just moved in last year and have nothing, not even time, invested in the neighborhood. It makes me sick.

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