Thursday, April 10, 2008
Been spending some time reading The Believer's Book of Writers Talking to Writers for a myriad of reasons. None of which wound up being reinforcement of that sublime resignation to my fate of writing the remainder of my days, though Grace Paley's advice is fine indeed: "Keep a low overhead. You're not going to make alot of money." Also: "Don't live with a person who doesn't respect your work."
Another non-reason was having writers comment on the curious state of journalism, an endeavor that I spend most of my days working at (and being taxed by) yet spending very little mental currency on. Joan Didion's tales about the '88 campaign trail is most fascinating, as is the note in the Haruki Murakami interview that his most "malevolent figure...is a sort of professional interviewee...(equating) his facility with the media (and the slipperiness of his opinions) with his evil and soullessness. (Saying that) if a person is too good at opening his mouth in public he's empty inside."
Then there's Daphne Beal's interview with Janet Malcolm: "One of the things that journalists come to understand after doing journalism for a while is the power of the question...It isn't only Diane Arbus who betrays the subjects of her photographs. Most people who have their picture taken hate the result. And most people who are the subjects of newspaper or magazine stories feel at least a little wronged if not outright betrayed. "
DB: "How do you reconcile the 'not-niceness' of the finished piece with...asking your subject for his or her trust?"
JM: "You do not reconcile it. That is the moral problem of journalism. But journalists don't ask for the subject's trust--they don't have to. Subjects just give it. They are eager to tell their story and don't seem to realize that they are not invisible as they tell it."