Writing and the Right
Adam Bellow’s cover piece, “Let Your Right Brain Run Free” (July 7), argues compellingly that without engaging the arts, conservatives’ political efforts are doomed to fail — a prediction likely to prove only too true — and rightly notes that conservatives have failed to put in place the kind of structural support that could help young, right-leaning artists. Writing programs, fellowships, prizes, and the rest would no doubt be a boon. However, since, as they say, books beget books, much good could also be done simply by pointing potential conservative storytellers to masters of the art (beyond J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, and Walker Percy, who, though vital, often seem to be the only worthwhile novelists conservatives have heard of). There are significant strains of conservative thought in mystery and crime fiction, where the problem of evil is paramount. Try P. D. James.
Science fiction has long entertained strong libertarian tendencies. Try not just Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlein, but the brilliant Gene Wolfe. So-called literary fiction has well-known conservative entries (e.g., the work of Wendell Berry, Cormac McCarthy, or Mark Helprin), but there are many rewarding new arrivals: Christopher R. Beha and William Giraldi, for example. None of these authors adheres to a party line — they might even reject one another as philosophical allies — but each exhibits a temperamental conservatism and a masterly ability to transform that worldview into art. Providing examples of substantive conservative fiction to our aspiring novelists will increase the likelihood that a conservative literary movement will flourish for generations to come.
A Forgotten Freshman
John J. Miller’s article “The Mailman’s Son” (April 21) contains one minor error. Miller claims that John Kasich was “the only non-incumbent GOP candidate to win a seat in the House that year” (1982). Nancy Johnson (R., Conn.) won her first of twelve terms that year and, when she left Congress in 2007, was the longest-serving member of the House from Connecticut.
Old Saybrook, Conn.