|THE ONE AND ONLY ANN LANDERS|
Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:
The first thing I turned to in the newspaper as a kid was Ann Landers’ advice column.
I couldn’t get enough — still can’t — of human dysfunction. The letters were longish but Ann’s advice was always succinct, practical, and to the point.
“You have every right to tell your in-laws that they cannot smoke in your home.”
“That child needs to be seen by a professional for evaluation.”
“Give Gloria notice — either she stops seeing that married man, or she will have to move out at the end of the month.”
My favorite was when Ann hit some prying busybody with the familiar zinger, MYOB: Mind Your Own Business.
Enter “Tiny Beautiful Things,” a book by mega-popular author Cheryl Strayed and now a play that was recently staged at the Pasadena Playhouse. Strayed wrote an anonymous advice column for a time under the pen name Sugar and, after revealing her identity, collected the letters into “Tiny Beautiful Things.”
Steve Almond, the writer who originally passed on the column to Strayed, calls her approach “radical empathy.”
That’s one way to put it: padding around her suburban kitchen in a hoodie and pajama bottoms, to my mind Sugar (played here by Nia Vardalos) makes every problem about herself: her grief over her mother’s death, her fling with heroin, the risks she’s so bravely taken (and that worked out, because look, here she is, the best-selling author of “Wild,” writing an advice column that will also be a bestseller!).
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.