This piece was among several for which Barry was a finalist for a 2006 Pulitzer Prize.We appreciated Barry’s reporting for irony and detail, a sort of writing that is hard to find in journalism. It seemed to us that Barry captured the real sense of the place: “The incomprehensible has become so routine here that it tends to lull you into acceptance. On Sunday, for example, several soldiers on Jefferson Highway had guns aimed at the heads of several prostrate men suspected of breaking into an electronics store.
“A car pulled right up to this tense scene and the driver leaned out his window to ask a soldier a question: ‘Hey, how do you get to the interstate?’ ”
And we appreciated this collection of ironic images: “The Mardi Gras beads imbedded in mud by a soldier’s boot print. The ‘take-away’ signs outside restaurants taken away. The corner kiosk shouting the Aug. 28 headline of New Orleans’s Times-Picayune: ‘Katrina Takes Aim.’ ”
Barry’s ending is poetry. We asked ourselves: Does reporting in such literary terms make the story less real? We think the opposite. The language elevates the story and particularizes it. It’s no longer a formulaic “story” but something immediate and grave.
Read “Macabre Reminder: The Corpse on Union Street,” by Dan Barry