DEAR ANN LANDERS: Our Intimate and Changing Dialogue with America's Best-Loved Confidante by David I. Grossvogel

DEAR ANN LANDERS: Our Intimate and Changing Dialogue with America's Best-Loved Confidante

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Esther Pauline ""Eppie"" Lederer, best known as Ann Landers, has 85 million readers daily and receives about 1000 letters a day. Of them, she answers three each day in her column while her staff handles the rest. In its past 32 years under Eppie's guidance, the Dear Ann Landers column has mirrored American values toward sex, love, marriage, family, and health more accurately than perhaps any other public forum or lonely-hearts column. Here, Grossvogel subjects the column to computer analysis. He has itemized the 35,000 letters that Landers has addressed since 1955, and compared them for statistical and historical frequency of theme. If this sounds yummy, it's nonetheless a mixed dish. Despite an opening interview with her, very little of Eppie's life itself makes its way into this study. We do discover that Eppie never says the ""s"" of ""f"" words, refers to breasts as ""hermans,"" and keeps to traditional values in her columns. She and her workaholic husband divorced in their 36th year of marriage, which Eppie took in stride with minimal depression. This chin-high response might be expected from the zippy, crackling ""Jewish mother"" (""Alimony is the high cost of leaving, Buster""--as she told ""KO'd"" who complained about divorce laws). Her views changed with the decades: where she once chided married female readers for undressing in the closet, she later found that the closet wasn't such a bad thing as middle age came on. From the mid-60's through the 70's, her readers' attitudes toward children ""changed from something like fear to simple fatique""--and 70% of her readers would have preferred a life without children! Few surprises, and Landers' surfacey insights fade on reading, despite being bottled herein as concentrates. --Disappointed.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Contemporary