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Boston heavyweights wax on the Marathon

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Versatile, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Leigh Montville: http://www.sportsonearth.com/article/44893972

    Charles P. Pierce: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9176985/boston-marathon-explosion

    These won't be easy or fun reads, but I would like to talk about them. Which approach (they are distinctly different, as one would expect from the bylines) was more effective?
  2. Writer33

    Writer33 Member

    Saw Montville's earlier today. He's always been a favorite of mine. He writes with such elegance.
  3. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Elegance is the best word for Leigh Montville's writing. I'm torn on his approach here, though. He wrote something different, which was refreshing. His column was fun until it wasn't, which basically sums up the event itself. He made an interesting decision to avoid going down to the event, avoid covering the fallout. It cut into his ability to fully encapsulate what happened, but it also kept his focus on the Boston Marathon. Had he went down to the area of the explosions, he would have written something very different and more typical.

    Yet Charles P. Pierce never writes typical, even as he did just that. His column was outstanding here, really a brilliant take on what this all means. The images were so sharp, from the lead all the way through. This passage put a lump in my throat:

    The ending was perfect, too, with the tales of first-world problems in a third-world-style catastrophe in a first-world city at a first-world event. The sentiment was perfect, a more jaded twist on Montville's.

    And I'm more Pierce than Montville, more cynical and less romantic, so perhaps that's why I fell for Pierce's words more in this case. But they are both beautiful in their own ways, and Montville deserves credit for doing something different, just as Pierce deserves credit for doing what everyone else did better than they could.
  4. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    I'll definitely say I preferred Pierce's piece, though both are well-written, lush with detail, interesting stories. I didn't really hone in on the "fun until it wasn't" angle Versatile pointed out, and I suppose Montville did something different, but frankly I'm not sure difference doesn't hurt it's relevance.

    This is a horrible event, a dark moment in history, and at that point I think you need people to drop that hammer of a column, being right up in it with that level of detail and scene-setting. Pierce deftly weaves cometary throughout without ever letting us leave. It's interesting that he can drop a few "fun until it wasn't" moments talking about some of the lighter aspects of the actual event but use them as a sort of partial but not complete backdrop.

    It should also be noted Pierce filed this (http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/boston-marathon-bombings-update-from-boston-041513) less than two hours after the explosions. That last detail is just fucking haunting.
  5. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    "And you can smell the blood two blocks away"?

    I figured he was speaking metaphorically.
  6. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    I prefer Pierce's depth a bit more and his willingness to go for great passages even in the face of tragedy. This, to me, is a great passage:

    <i>"By now, they'd cleared out the long white medical tent in the middle of Copley Square across from the Boston Public Library, over whose doors are carved the words "Free to All," as though that was something permanent about the society we create among ourselves. Earlier that day, the runners who were recovering in that tent from the pain they'd voluntarily inflicted upon themselves were told, in a fashion both chilling and swift, to move to the back, and then the people who had been injured were brought in, and the exhausted, the sunstruck, and the dehydrated moved away, shuffling and stumbling in their bright silver blankets, because the medical tent now had a trauma ward and three people were dead. Now, the tent was quiet and, not far down the street, the fireman sagged on the fender of the truck and stared at the bottle of water at his feet."</i>
  7. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    Let me be clear, too: I like Montville's a lot. He wrote what he saw and felt.
  8. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Both were strong. I think Montville's is a more original in that I'd read dozens of grim Piercean accounts and nothing that shed a little light on the innocence and happiness of the event -- at least in the way Montville did it.
  9. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Interesting. It never occurred to me it wasn't literal. It's a pungent smell.
  10. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I don't think I've ever been around a large quantity of spilled blood. But I have been near a bomb detonation, which has its own pungent smell. Maybe he was being literal. I don't know. It's a great line either way.
  11. Golazo21

    Golazo21 Member

    Forgive me if I sound like newb - I am what I am - but Pierce, in his Esquire piece, and many others reported on "secondary devices," only to have Gov. Patrick say there were no secondary devices.

    What do you guys think? Does the old saying "don't trust what a politician tells you" apply here?
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Hard to decide. Like em both.
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