Friday, November 12, 2010

Blog 19: Tracy Kidder

Tracey Kidder's writing appears to be an off-shoot and fusion of new journalism respectively coupled with travel journalism. Kidder is not quite immersive because he doesn't need to cover himself or hide his goals. Instead, Kidder travels to the story and makes a story out of what he sees rather than thinking of an opportunity and crafting a story around what he senses to be an opportunity. Having the ability to see a town like Hamp/Noho, notice fringe members of the society and write a story that weaves them together into a journalistic book makes Kidder a traveling journalist, in my opinion. He writes the details that are the essence of the place and uses the characters' unique characteristics to define them, not exploit them. For Mountains Beyond Mountains, he attempted to paint the man as man, as father, as human. Kidder wanted to show the power but also the making of Paul Farmer. He did not immerse himself in the subject but rather observed and saw Farmer's cause, adding to the travel journalism aspect while detracting from immersion.

There shouldn't be a question of this as a legitimate form. The genre of new journalism leaves room for experimentation and Kidder has innovated what has already been accepted. It appears that he presents his characters as truthfully as he sees them, making these works more than just fiction and more than a simple relay of what he has witnessed. Also, being able to bring the stories of the people together makes this more than a simple retelling but also a weaving of a society. But one attribute that does not coincide with travel journalism is the excitement of his subjects. Rather than traveling to exotic places and bringing audiences tales of places they can only read about and never visit, Kidder takes the ordinary townspeople and makes their inner lives more prominent.

I would like to do something like this because it seems to involve getting out into the community and getting to know people on their level, not just professionally or in one respect but how they think and what they are like as people, intricacies and 'character flaws' included. Copious notes wouldn't be my favorite part of the job, but understanding the subject in such depth is pertinent to the story. I would also love to travel so that is another plus for this genre.

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