A good story well told

Re "The old men and the sea," Column One, Jan. 1

Christopher Goffard's article was an especially fine piece of writing. It was well-structured and lucid, with many beautiful turns of phrase. He captured his subject, of course, as a good journalist should, but he also rendered a deft sketch of an archetypical American character and of a singularly lonely way of life. What a pleasure to find this kind of writing in The Times.

Steve Barker

San Juan Capistrano

Goffard's piece on Karl Markvart and the other sailor-dreamers is just one very fine art of storytelling and slice of life -- exquisitely written. He captured something indefinable, fragments of life itself! I just wish it had been longer. The poignancy, humor, the conversation between two tough old men (dueling monologues), the interview with the boatyard manager -- everything right on. Congratulations.

Peter Canning

Los Angeles

Rep. Lantos and Raoul Wallenberg

Re "Lantos says he won't run in fall," Jan. 3

It is symbolic that Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Burlingame) announced his illness and his stepping-down in the same month that we commemorate the day that Raoul Wallenberg -- the man who saved Lantos and his wife more than 60 years ago -- was taken by the Soviets, never to be seen again.

Lantos never forgot the man who saved his life. When elected to Congress in 1981, he was the driving force behind President Reagan awarding Wallenberg honorary U.S. citizenship. Lantos was also the first to sign our campaign "100,000 Names for 100,000 Lives" to disclose the fate of Wallenberg.

We at the foundation know he will continue his work to preserve the memory and disclose the fate of Wallenberg.

Abigail Tenembaum

Executive Director

International Raoul

Wallenberg Foundation

New York

Genetic screening is safer