Good stuff coming up this Thursday, Dec. 5.
First off: I’ll be introducing The Atlantic’s James Fallows and Corby Kummer at the last MIT Communications Forum event of the year. It’ll run from 5-7 in MIT building 66, room 110. (Map at the link.)
Fallows you all know, I think. He’s been national correspondent at The Atlantic since forever, with a stint at Jimmy Carter’s head speechwriter thrown in. He’s covered an enormous range of stories from a great range of places — Washington, Shanghai, Beijing, and any civil aviation landing strip he can find. Politics, flight, international relations, China-watching, beer and much more. He’s a National Magazine Award and American Book Award winner. Kummer is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he has shepherded many of its signature pieces from wisp in a writer’s eye to publication. (He’s also one of America’s leading food writers, winner of 5 James Beard Journalism awards including one my previous post would suggest I find most impressive, the M. F. K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
Here’s what the two of them will talk about: “Long Form Journalism: Inside The Atlantic.”
The session will focus on two questions: what goes into the making of a major piece of journalism. First: what’s required to conceive, report, develop, refine, fix, verify, and then, finally, produce a long piece of writing that can both demonstrate the proposition and persuade its readers of its truth and importance. Second: why such journalism matters (and, perhaps, some commentary on the curious fact that despite the internet’s supposed slaughter of attention, long form non-fiction seems it be entering something of a golden age.)
This will be videotaped, and I’ll post the clip and/or links to same when it goes live (and I know that I’ve still got to get the promised Coates-Hertzberg video ready to roll…) But if you’re in town on Thursday, this should be a good one. We’ll probably be focusing on a single, maybe a couple of signature Fallows articles that went under Kummer’s watchful eye, and as I find out the texts, I’ll post those links in my next reminder.
The other event that Greater-Cambridge folks might want to check out is a truly happy book event for one of my oldest and dearest friends, Merry “Corky” White, (my college tutor, as it happens), whose classic Cooking for Crowds (illustrated by Koren!) is being re-iussed in a 40th anniversary edition.
She’ll be talking the book at Harvard Bookstore at 7 p.m. on Thursday — and I’ll be dashing as fast as I can from 02139 to 02138 to cheer her on. If you can, you should too. (No media for this one, alas.)
BTW: here’s the Amazon link to Corky’s book — but in the spirit of time, place and season, get it at Harvard Books if that’s near you, or from and the independent bookstore you normally use if you’re one of the lucky ones to still possess such a community treasure.
Images: Mary Cassat, Woman Reading in a Garden, before 1926
Jan Steen, Feast of the Rhetoricians Near a Town Gate, before 1679
Perhaps Mr. Cole can start a bleg to fund sending some deserving frat boys to her appearance.
I need to hire you for my book signings whenever I get my NaNo novel finished and up on CreateSpace…
Do put up the video of tonight, and TNC earlier, or we will have to come looking for you.
And good luck. Sounds like a wonderful evening. James Fallows rocks.
I had no idea that Fallows wrote for Carter – how come he gave such crappy speeches? If I were a millionaire I’d hire Fallows to write everything said, he is that good. There must have been a horrible sausage factory between Fallows pen & Jimmy’s mouth
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
Fallows and I are pen pals and Corby Kummer is an awesome food writer. Sounds like a lot of fun.
@Schlemizel: Tweety was also a Carter speechwriter. My guess is that those sessions where speeches were supposed to get written were contantly being interrupted by Matthews going on and on about how Carter should be more like O’Neil. As a Baptist, Jimmy Carter probably wasn’t too into doing speeches after downing a hip flask.
Sigh. Andover is calling me…
Oh my god. I know Corky White–I can’t actually remember why I know her but I have the original book, with the original Koren illustrations. She’s a wonderful person. I will definitely try to attend.
How about “Short Form Journalism: What We’ve Done To Prevent Gastritous Level Events From Ever Happening Again”
Or how about “Journalism: Why Would Anyone Give A Flying Fuck What A British Tory Thinks?”
Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.)
Saw this execrable piece today.
There’s bit at the end helped me put together the question that I hadn’t found a way to coherently put into words. Here it is:
I’ve been mulling over for some time this feeling I’ve had that an awful lot of the Very Serious People seem to believe that society exists only to further the most efficiently running market possible. “Market” always seems to rate above society”. And nothing makes a market happier, it seems, that “efficiency”. But that seems to me to put everything upside down. As I can see it, the economy are subservient to society, or should be. If an “efficient” economy tends to harm society overall, then maybe we should think about living with a somewhat less efficient economy.
Another weird thing is the claim that if fucking workers is “bad business practice”, then the company will fail. Well, I guess that, most of the time, “bad business practice” will tank a business. But he utterly overlooks the fact that a “good business practice” can be an appalling moral practice. I mean, shit, wasn’t the slave economy of the south before the Civil War a “good business practice”? Those plantation owners made shitloads of money. It didn’t make it right.
It seems like these people can’t tell the means from the end. An economy is a means to an end, which, to my mind, at least, is a better society. But the Very Serious People seem to see economies as ends in themselves. People, societies, are put on earth to serve economies, rather than the other way around. I don’t know what to make of this, or what you’d call this belief. “Market worship”? “Idollaratry”? “Centacostalism”? I don’t know; am I misreading these people? Am I missing something? I guess somebody who knows more about economics than I do–which would be about everybody–can interpret this better than I can…
@srv: Longform fan here. I’ll take 15,000 words vs. 500. IMHO sometimes it takes more than a few words to tell a story I’d like to read.
@Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): But they are leaving out the part where WalMart employee do not starve because we, the taxpayer, keeps their heads barely above water.
What if we didn’t do that? What if every WalMart entrance was paved with starving sick children with begging bowls?
Then we’d have that free market they are so fond of.
As White’s most recent book is Coffee Life in Japan, I imagine she’d be a most engaging interlocutor with either/both Fallows or/and Kummer. While his writings on China are better known, Fallows has regularly written on Japan as well.
Cole needs to teach the frat boys how to cook “sludge”.
I was reading The Atlantic Monthly by the time I was in knee-pants. Ellery Sedgwick revamped and rescued the magazine from near-bankruptcy. Bob Manning was a great editor, even achieving a place on Nixon’s expanded enemies list. I stuck with it through Mort Zuckerman’s tenure — but how does one forgive David Bradley, Michael Kelly, Jeffrey Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan, et al. for doing so much damage to such a worthy magazine in such a short time? It still includes some good writing but, far from the unalloyed pleasure it used to be, all too often one now shrinks from it, regretfully and with a sense of loss.
I’ve known Corby since college days, and I would say he is one of the worst writers about food that I have every know. Pretentious and ignorant. You just had to know him back in the day to know that he is a repugnant fraud.