Jean McConville had just taken a bath when the intruders knocked on the door.

The rasp of knuckles at a West Belfast flat would jar many people at night in 1972. That sound for so many – fathers, young men, teens, a mother of 10 – marked the moment when lives were upended, families plunged into fear.

The mystery of a mother’s fate, told in spare, vivid detail, is just one of several lives stitched together in Patrick Radden Keefe’s arresting story, “Where the Bodies Are Buried.” In 15,700 words, he steeps readers in the daily terrors and psychological destruction wrought by decades of guerilla warfare in Northern Ireland. Readers understand by the story’s end that the grinding violence of the Troubles is not a historical conflict, but one that still fumes, indeed sometimes bursts to life, in the brick alleys and warrens today.

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From Nieman Reports

The Narrative Appeal of Documentary Theater

July 29, 2015

Why journalists are turning to playwriting to express the 'dramatic truth' at the heart of their stories

I didn’t want to be a columnist like the guys on the op-ed pages, who orated on national politics from the top of Mount Pundit. I didn’t envision myself writing the kind of column that… Read more

The two journalism students didn’t let their awe at meeting Esquire writer Mike Sager silence their frustration: Why weren’t there more women in his collection of the “next generation” of literary journalists? Sager’s response, in… Read more

In the fifth of five dispatches from this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Charles Scudder reports on what it takes to win a Pulitzer—and the effect of winning it on a journalist’s work and sources Read more

In the fourth of five dispatches from this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Charles Scudder reports on tips for including landscape as character in narrative Read more

In the third of five dispatches from this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Charles Scudder reports on Jeff Chang’s discussion of his book Who We Be: The Colorization of America Read more

In the second of five dispatches from this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Charles Scudder reports on how combining text and image can enhance storytelling Read more

In the first of five dispatches from this year’s Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, Charles Scudder reports on Caleb Hannan’s reflections on his 2014 Grantland story, which sparked controversy about transgender depictions in the media Read more

When Jeanne Marie Laskas set out to write about guns for GQ magazine in 2012, she knew it would be difficult but she didn't expect it would become the story that, as she puts it, "nearly ate… Read more

As I set out five years ago to write a biography of one of the most recognizable women on the planet, the first question was why do it. The second was how. Neither answer came… Read more

If there's anywhere that crime pays, it might be at this year's National City and Regional Magazine Awards, where a majority of the winning stories, announced last night at the annual CRMA conference in Dallas,… Read more

If you're read the most recent Storyboard feature for the Nieman Reports magazine -- and, if you haven't, here it is -- you may know that narrative is increasingly taking to the stage and streets as journalism goes live… Read more