Monday, October 5, 2009

Lawrence Weschler on Engaging Non-Fiction Writing

Interview with New Yorker writer Lawrence Weschler on "literary journalism," . Or, as Weschler puts it, "non-fiction in which the writing matters."

My favorite quotes from the interview:

On engaging writing: "How does narrative arrive out of reportage?"

Of a writer: "She never uses the word 'I' once, but she has a voice."

Of an editor: "He didn't hire reporters, he hired voices. He said that you could always teach a voice to report. It's more difficult to teach a reporter to have a voice."

On blogs: "Often, all that they're offering is opinion. Here we're talking about reportage. You actually go out in the world. This is expensive and you're not going to get it for free."

On the dying art of long-form reportage: "The hope is that [the next generation of writers] will take over and remind the world why it's so important."

On myth of absolute objectivity: "They are designed to fetishize the idea that they are the Voice of God, and they are not. One of the things that's wonderful about a voice is that it addresses you personally in the awkwardness of your personal life."