I’m in Nova Scotia for a literary journalism conference (more on that in the coming days), and it’s been incredibly heartening to see such passion for the genre. I’ve heard wonderful discussions on everything from John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” written 70 years ago, to Shane Bauer’s “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard,” from last year. Beautiful storytelling is getting some love in Halifax. (Come on up! It lasts until Saturday.)
Josh O’Kane and “The Ballad of Fogarty’s Cove.” As I said in the post spotlighting this lovely story, the word “lament” is a sadly beautiful thing, its layers and meanings distinct, yet entwined. In music, it is a song of loss, of missing someone or something that is no longer there. As a verb, it expresses grief, or regret. In both verb and song form, it has a keening feel to it. This story, which explores the love of a place, and the sorrow over leaving when it cannot sustain you, is imbued with the word.
The soundtrack: There’s only one soundtrack for this song, isn’t there? “Fogarty’s Cove,” by Stan Rogers. As O’Kane’s story says: “Fogarty’s Cove, the song, was a metaphor for the tragedy of leaving home to get good work.”
One Great Sentence
“There’s no room for hate in ice cream,” Dennis liked to remind himself.
David Wolman and Julian Smith, “The Cold War,” Epic magazine, 2015. Read why we think it’s great.
The roadblocks, and the dangers, for investigative journalists in the Arab world. I’m filled with admiration for journalists in the Arab world who dare to pursue investigative journalism. In this post by Abby Sewell, she talks to the leader of a group that’s trying to make things easier for those involved in the fledgling movement of reporter-diggers in the region. But things have only gotten harder, says Rana Sabbagh, a Jordanian journalist and the organization’s executive director. “When the Arab Spring happened, we all thought it was going to usher in a new period of openness, and the opposite happened,” she says.
The soundtrack: “Dig a Little Deeper,” by Mahalia Jackson. “I want to dig a little deeper in the store-house of God’s love.” A voice that gives you goosebumps.
What I’m reading online: Soon after the presidential election last year, amid allegations that Russia had interfered with the vote, I “curated” a selection of great literary journalism about Vladimir Putin. With this week’s Yates testimony and the firing of FBI chief Comey, I thought you might like another chance to read them.
I thought I’d stay on an international vibe with this piece by Samira Shackle in the Guardian, “On the front lines with Karachi’s ambulance drivers.” It’s vivid and intensely readable, with passages like this one:
Safdar shouts through his loudspeaker for people to move. “Hey Muslim! Go quicker!” he calls to a man with a long beard wearing a prayer hat. “Rickshaw driver, get out of the way!” “Old lady, move it!” “Son of a bitch, are you drunk?” He screeches to a halt outside the flats where the explosion has taken place.
What’s on my bedside table: A friend who helps organize the literary journalism conference lent me “Eagle Pond,” by New Hampshire poet Donald Hall. He thought I’d like this collection of essays about the family farm and the life Hall has lived there, as a child visiting his grandfather, and as a husband and widower — and grandfather himself. As someone living in a 19th century New England farmhouse, I’m hooked.
What’s on my turntable: Although I spend most of my time listening to music on Spotify, sometimes I want to hear the needle touching down on vinyl. This week’s vinyl: “How to Speak Hip,” by Del Close and John Brent. This comedy album is worth it for the cover (and handy instruction booklet) alone, but it’s also funny. “Welcome to the exciting world of hip,” it begins, in the overly enunciated cadence of a pedantic instructor. “This is a new departure in language instruction for English-speaking people who want to talk to, and be understood by, jazz musicians, hipsters, beatniks, juvenile delinquents and the criminal fringe.” It has the vibe of that famous New York Times tweet: “‘Word up!’ It is I, the Gray Lady, with a “shoutout” to all my hip young friends.”
If you want to chat about storytelling (or music), you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can find me at @karihow on Twitter.