updated 02/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/03/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Hearts around the world may have been broken at the news, but many despondent correspondents were able to muster the grace to send their best wishes to Brad Pitt and his newly betrothed, Gwyneth Paltrow (PEOPLE, Jan. 13).

I had barely recovered from your John F. Kennedy Jr. wedding cover story, and now you hit. me with the Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow engagement cover. PEOPLE, please, a girl can only take so much!
San Marino, Calif.

Although part of me has to grieve, I can honestly say that I'm pleased to see Brad Pitt happy and in love. Especially with someone as beautiful both inside and out as Gwyneth Paltrow.

Congratulations to my most adored actress and actor! I know this is one love story that will never end.
ELISE PICARD, Stuttgart, Germany

I about crashed my grocery cart when I saw PEOPLE. This issue is definitely going in the scrapbook, if I can keep the pages dry enough to put it there!

I prefer to look at the positive side: At least Christian Slater is still single.
South San Francisco, Calif.

Was this a slow news week or something? Eight pages devoted to telling us that Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow are engaged (plus cover photo) when a few lines in Passages would have been sufficient?
BARBARA DANN, Bethel, Conn.

I wonder how "supremely elegant" Gwyneth Paltrow will seem to genXers when she shows up at an Armani party toting an oxygen tank with tubes up her nose? For someone blessed with so many gifts, it's mind-boggling to think she would sacrifice it all for a stick of tobacco.

My father was a respected attorney for 42 years and president of the Washington State Bar Association. Over half his work was pro bono or at a reduced fee. He turned down cases he believed to be morally indefensible. He died at the age of 70 in 1993, and as much as I miss him, today I am glad he is gone. The Simpson custody decision destroyed my faith in the law Dad served so honorably. It is reprehensible that "justice" can outweigh common sense.

I want to be sure that everyone understands one thing: that the Simpson children are well-adjusted and stable in the aftermath of the tragic loss of their mother is entirely attributable to the Brown family's care and nurturing. It does not account for the problems the children will face with their father, now or in the future, without proper counseling. I hope with all my heart that Mr. Simpson realizes this.
Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.

In 1974 I worked for a small newspaper in Sarnia, Ont. Every year a dinner was held to honor local sports people, with the proceeds going to the children's hospital. The dinner always featured a famous sports figure, and that year it was to be Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins. At 10 that morning, Csonka canceled. Someone called someone who knew someone, and at 2 p.m. a private jet landed, and out stepped Muhammad Ali. He insisted his first stop be the hospital, where he spent three hours talking, hugging and singing with the children. He was gracious and funny with the press, and his speech that night brought tears to our eyes. Ali was on a mission way back then. Thank you for letting the rest of the world know what a hero he is.
MARTI MARTRAY, Alexandria, Va.

A brilliant scientist has been lost to us forever, and you put him on one page near the back of the magazine. He should have been on the cover instead of the two nitwits from La-La land. I am disappointed in you.

You deserve to be commended for risking the wrath of the religious right by eulogizing such a prominent atheist. I just wish Sagan's atheism could have been mentioned, as it was perhaps the unifying thread running through his life and work: reason over superstition, spirituality based on this world rather than the next, and morality based on the needs of humanity rather than the needs of God.
New Westminster, B.C.

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