Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 452481 times)

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2100 on: April 25, 2019, 10:39:55 pm »
It might be online but Iím reading it in the 4/29 issue. Donít think Iím that up to date. Iím sure my pile contains issues going back to at least October.

Yeah, 4/29 arrived in my mailbox today. I see it's in there. I just finished the article in 4/15 about the arbitrators involved in paying out money to victims of clergy sex abuse.

How can any amount of money ever make up for being sexually abused whether by a priest or by anybody?
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2101 on: April 26, 2019, 08:40:16 am »
How can any amount of money ever make up for being sexually abused whether by a priest or by anybody?

I actually know someone who got money for this. I'm sure he's an extreme outlier, but he was completely nonchalant about it. This guy did some small painting jobs in my house last year over a period of weeks, as I was getting it ready to sell. He was a friendly, chatty guy, prone to long conversations (luckily I didn't pay him by the hour and I was working from home back then so my time was pretty flexible). He told me within the first five or six times he was here I saw him that he was a plaintiff in this big Catholic church abusive priest payout.

What happened, he said, was that a priest invited him and his brother to stay overnight. At bedtime, the priest asked them to strip down to just underwear, not to wear their pajamas. Then the priest got in bed with them and sort of horsed around -- but, the painter said, didn't do anything to them or touch them in any overtly sexual way. The next day when their mother picked them up, they told her what happened and she screeched the car to a stop, demanded details immediately and told them they couldn't stay overnight there again.

So the explanations include:

1) The painter is lying -- not to me (his photo was in the paper at one of the events) and not telling a fake story just to get money. but possibly downplaying the abuse from something more severe. He was very friendly and frank, but there were one or two other things, unrelated to this, that raised my suspicions about his honesty (not as a painter -- that part was fine). So maybe he was just feigning his happy-go-lucky attitude.

2) The circumstances -- underwear left on, no out-and-out sex stuff, his brother was with him and their mom immediately believed them and took action -- softened the trauma and lasting damage. Though he did say it had bothered his brother throughout life more than it had him.

Anyway, he was now one of a group in a class-action suit splitting millions of dollars. I can't remember the exact numbers, but if they'd just divided the money by individuals he would have received well into the 6 figures.

But the painter said they were planning to divide it according to some sort of ranking system by the survivors' degree of assault or level of trauma. That sounds like it would be really difficult -- as his own story attests, two people can have the same experience and be affected differently by it. But I secretly thought that if they did divide it that way the painter shouldn't get much because he seemed very untraumatized.


Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2102 on: April 26, 2019, 11:09:16 pm »

.... he did say it had bothered his brother throughout life more than it had him.

Possibly the brother was abused but the other one wasn't.
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2103 on: April 27, 2019, 08:44:23 am »
Possibly the brother was abused but the other one wasn't.

Right, but I got the impression they were either in the same room or had shared stories enough to know they'd had the same experience. Who knows.

But sometimes different people react to things differently. Stormy Daniels found herself in a hotel room with Donald Trump and figured she had to go ahead and have sex with him because she'd gotten herself into that situation. For other women it would be a huge #metoo story (not to mention sickening in many other ways). But people just have different levels of sensitivity, I guess.



Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2104 on: April 27, 2019, 02:57:57 pm »
I read the article about John Hersey. Seems like I would know of him better but I'm only vaguely familiar with him. The article is a bit of a review of the new biography The Straight Arrow.

Funny that it talks a lot about the notion that fiction is better than nonfiction, that we were discussing on The Renters topic. Apparently, Hersey, Tom Wolfe, and other journalist/authors had the same impression that fiction is superior. But the notion didn't hold true in practice. None of Hersey's fiction works had the same acclaim as his nonfiction.

Then, there's the notion of the nonfiction novel. In many cases, it's essential to novelize a person's story in order to breathe life into the pages. But authors can get carried away easily.
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Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2105 on: April 28, 2019, 10:00:13 am »
Seems like I would know of him better but I'm only vaguely familiar with him.

I've never read anything by him but now I'm tempted to read Hiroshima. I had no idea he was sort of the forefather of New Journalism, as they called writing by Wolfe, Mailer, Talese, Capote, Hunter Thompson, etc.

Quote
Funny that it talks a lot about the notion that fiction is better than nonfiction, that we were discussing on The Renters topic. Apparently, Hersey, Tom Wolfe, and other journalist/authors had the same impression that fiction is superior. But the notion didn't hold true in practice. None of Hersey's fiction works had the same acclaim as his nonfiction.

Then, there's the notion of the nonfiction novel. In many cases, it's essential to novelize a person's story in order to breathe life into the pages. But authors can get carried away easily.

I was surprised to see Lemann repeatedly use the term "nonfiction novel." I never hear anybody use that term these days, nor do they say New Journalism except when referring to writing by Wolfe et al. But Lemann is dean emeritus at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, so he must know his terminology.

The term I hear most often is "creative nonfiction."

I think there's still some notion out there that fiction is superior. Most literary contests have competitions in fiction, poetry and nonfiction, but some only have fiction and poetry. The famed Iowa Writers Workshop does not have a nonfiction department -- you can study creative nonfiction writing at Iowa, but it's a separate program.

But I applauded Hersey's emphasis on absolute adherence to fact. That's a big controversy today among creative nonfiction writers. Most, especially people like me who came from journalism, vehemently insist on facts only. But there's a school of writers who argue that it's OK to blur the lines and if it works, it works. They call it the "lyrical essay."

A few years ago I was on a panel at AWP, the big annual conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. While I was there I attended a bunch of other panels and wrote a few blog posts for the paper where I work. One panel I wrote about discussed the "lyrical essay." I assumed going in was about literary style essays, but it turned out to be almost entirely about the fact-fudging thing. The session got so heated that attendees were screaming swear words across the hotel ballroom at each other.

Not the usual quiet decorum typical of those sessions.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2106 on: April 29, 2019, 02:11:37 pm »
The term I hear most often is "creative nonfiction."

New one on me, and I'd be very suspicious of anything called that.

Quote
But I applauded Hersey's emphasis on absolute adherence to fact. That's a big controversy today among creative nonfiction writers. Most, especially people like me who came from journalism, vehemently insist on facts only. But there's a school of writers who argue that it's OK to blur the lines and if it works, it works. They call it the "lyrical essay."

My word for it would be baloney.  ;D

But with some journalism and more history in my own background, I'm with you on insisting on facts.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2107 on: April 29, 2019, 02:22:02 pm »
Over lunch today, I finished Anne Boyer's article on being a breast cancer patient (April 15). Horrible. Just horrible. At work I read a lot about the treatments, but never about the side effects.

I suppose what shocked me the most is that she made it sound as if her double mastectomy was almost treated like out-patient surgery. And she was expected to return to work ten days after that major surgery? That's barbaric. And I think her point about being single and having no one to participate in her care after surgery applies to just about any serious illness and treatment. What are we supposed to do?

BTW, I know of at least one man who died of breast cancer. I knew him in college. He wrote a column (he had a rapier wit) while I was editor of the campus paper. Later he was editor for a time of the Philadelphia Gay News. IIRC, that's how I learned of his death and the cause of it. As a former editor, his death merited a short article in the paper.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2108 on: April 29, 2019, 09:27:35 pm »
New one on me, and I'd be very suspicious of anything called that.

No need to be suspicious -- it's been more or less the broadly accepted, reasonably neutral, standard term for years. It refers to nonfiction that's written with a little (or in some cases a lot) more literary flare than, say, a straight-up newspaper article or an encyclopedia entry or an article for a peer-reviewed scientific journal. I would classify many or most New Yorker articles as creative nonfiction. For one example of what distinguishes them, they often include physical descriptions of the people they talk to even if their appearances aren't essential to the story.

Here's Jeffrey Toobin's description of Michael Cohen in a piece I just saw today:

Cohen, who is fifty-two, has an unlined face, more or less permanently set in a hangdog scowl, and a voice that retains the unmistakable trace of his childhood on Long Island. In conversation, he jumps from topic to topic in a jittery staccato. To sit with him today is to listen to a fugue of self-pity and rage, from a man who also exhibits some understandable bewilderment at his plight.

Wow, most people know what he looks like and don't need to be told, but this is a perfect description of the guy, which enhances the prose. You wouldn't see that in an ordinary newspaper story. It might seem like a stretch to call Jeffrey Toobin's very factual reporting of legal affairs "creative," but at least some would qualify. They're definitely at one end of the spectrum; creative nonfiction goes all the way to kind of more avante garde stuff that even I don't like that much. My tastes fall somewhere in between. (Even many "duty" NYer articles are creative nonfiction, if they're written in a colorful, novelistic way about something you're not especially interested in but seems important enough to read.) Some people call it literary nonfiction.




Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #2109 on: May 02, 2019, 04:27:18 pm »
I read the John Hersey article (April 29) over lunch today. (Hersey was quite good-looking, wasn't he?) I've never read Hiroshima; clearly, I should. I was fascinated by the quotation on page 68 of the opening of the book. It immediately reminded me of another book, published nine years after "Hiroshima" first appeared in The New Yorker. Walter Lord used pretty much the same form in his A Night to Remember (1955), about the sinking of the Titanic, that Hersey had pioneered in The New Yorker: "It was almost 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, the 14th of April, 1912." I found Lord's use of "time stamps" and the perspectives of different people riveting. Now I guess I know where he got the idea.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.