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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Dale Peck on Contemporary "Literary" Fiction

As one reads contemporary novelists, one can't shake the feeling that they write for one another rather than for some more or less common reader. Their prose shares a showiness that speaks of solidarity and competition--the exaggerated panache with which teenaged boys shoot hoops in their driveways while pretending they don't notice their neighbor watching from across the street.

Dale Peck, Hatchet Jobs, 2004

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Celebrity Journalist

It takes tremendous craft for a nonfiction writer to dominate his subject. Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Hunter S. Thompson could pull this off, but once they became celebrities in their own right, it became harder and harder for them to act as reporters. The instant they arrived to cover a story their presence altered it. Other less-gifted writers who tried to copy them often failed when technique overwhelmed or even changed substance.

Peg Taylor in The Writer's Handbook, edited by Elfrieda Abbe, 2003 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Kids Do in the Woods These Days

     Police in Wylie, Texas, wanted to know what two teenagers were doing in the woods Saturday night, March 8, 2014. "We were burying a body," one of them said. They weren't kidding. When police looked in the woods northeast of Dallas they found the corpse of 17-year-old Ivan Mejia of Wylie. The two 16-year-olds were charged with murder.

     Police first became interested when they checked out a suspicious, unoccupied vehicle backed up to the tree line….Officers went into the woods and saw two suspects running from the area. The police officers returned to the car. The 16-year-olds walked up to the car and answered the question that set off the bells….

     Mejia was killed behind Wylie East High School where all three teenagers were students, and taken to the wooded area….No motive has been released, but police say the killing was planned.

     A school spokesperson said the incident was not connected to a school-sponsored activity. [Like what? A Murder 101 field experiment?]

Ralph Ellis and Joe Sutton, "'We Are Burying a Body,' Teen Suspect Tells Texas Police," CNN, March 10, 2014