Saturday, March 22, 2008

Write what you know

If you're at all like me, which you most likely are not, but I'm willing to overlook that, you love a good turn of phrase above all else. The trouble with newspapers and glossies alike, these days, is that they're trying so hard to keep up with our fast-forwarded culture that and average article now consists of less than 500 words; and NONE of those words you'd have to look up.
I'm a reader, no scratch that, a dweeb extraordinaire, and consume written items like additive-ridden candy. Given the chance, I like to read at least ten blogs a day, six online newspapers, one paper-version and as many magazines I can get my grimy mits on.

What I've discovered though, is that while there are many interesting writers, professionals and non-professionals alike, who cover a variety of topics, it's rather hard to find truly heart-felt and inspiring writing, on- or offline. Like everyone else, I too like to play favorites, and there is one glowing exception to the above criticism. Her name is Laura Barton, and she works for a traditional print media outlet, the rather subversive British newspaper The Guardian.

The first article of hers that I remember reading (though I may have read some of her band interviews before) is this gem of a story, where Ms. Barton compares the extinction of the mix-tape, to the dying language of Eyak, now spoken only by one 88-year old woman somewhere in Alaska. Reading the article was an experience akin to discovering amazing new songs, or poetry, or an author for the first time. This feeling is best described as finding a piece of art that seems expressly and exclusively made for you. Personally, I've felt this before, when first reading J.D. Salinger's short stories (oh the arrogance of youth! Millions upon millions must have had this same "intimate" connection with Mr. Salinger's prose.), Nicole Krauss' The History of Love, watching Lawn Dogs and The Virgin Suicides, hearing Joanna Newsom, Stars, Bon Iver (about whom Ms. Barton too recently rhapsodised) and countless other bands.

What makes Ms. Barton's writing stand out from the endless newspaper articles and blog ruminations, is that her writing bears none of the requisite journalistic removal of oneself from one's subject matter, nor the afflicted cool of bloggers writing about popular culture. Like a fiction author, Ms. Barton injects herself, her persona, her emotions, completely into her writing.

For how could one not love the writing of a woman who once explained her love for a crappy song like this: "Maybe it was something to do with a certain seasonal bonhomie, with those festive weeks when we all wear our emotions like an endoskeleton, vulnerable to cheap TV and soft-centered ballads."

Never mind that she confused endoskeleton with exoskeleton, read Laura Barton's thoughts on Whether Bears Are The New Boars, Driving in America, Mixtapes, Girly turkey twizzlers, TV, Redheads, The Dogs Cats and Pigeons Of War, among other things, here

(Image form this weird site...)

Listening to: Stars

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