We loved/hated Norman Mailer and John McPhee, but agreed that Joseph Mitchell was a success, via Mr. Hunter. If you’re interested in the thirty-year writer’s block that followed, here is one report.
Next week we’ll read Temily, Alexis, Saga, Manon, Jennifer, Jala and Anne-Laure. In addition to your usual notations while reading (on details, dialogue, conflict, motivation and a character’s action), try making an outline of the piece – what is the writing trying to achieve, and why is it working, or not?
Jennifer will give the first author presentation, on Adam Hochschild. The point of the assignment is to talk to and/or read more about the work and life of a writer you admire, and want to introduce to others. You can’t read all of his/her work, of course, but you can survey enough to see a pattern of his/her subjects, or a style of how books and articles are structured – how they begin and end, for example, what characters are included, and themes that run through the work. (Orwell, for example, often writes about principles and class.) Speaking of the “meet cute” type of story – please tell us how this person became a writer, and managed to make a living. A paid newspaper position? Scripts? Selling insurance by day and typing at night?
Finally, via Alexis, here’s a recent post on the New Yorker Books blog about fact-checking literary journalism. Conclusion: Don’t make stuff up to “fit” a story. Reality works just fine. Further to this, via Samantha, is a clever essay on Slate arguing the same, by including 32 falsehoods, revealed at the end.