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NYTimes story on Archie & Olivia Manning

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by 21, Feb 2, 2010.

  1. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    No doubt intended to be a feel-good piece on the Manning family, their history in New Orleans, why they are beloved, etc.

    But this part, from the 81 year old housekeeper who has worked for the Mannings since Eli was 6 months old, really struck me as an odd detail.

    I know, it's the south and 'the help' isn't accustomed to the boss doing anything considerate, and it was clearly intended to be a positive statement. But my first thought was, 'if she was such an awesome lady, why didn't she give her a ride??' And I was left wishing the writer had found a better detail, some other anecdote to make his point.

    Or has this story been done so many times there's just nothing left to say?

  2. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Wait til they find out what Archie gave her.
  3. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    One of cool things of the old south is that the courtliness still exists.

    Writer did a good job conveying that feel. Made me want to sit on the veranda with Mr Manning and have mammy bring us a mint julep.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    While the field hands looked on longingly.
  5. tmr

    tmr Member

    Christ, what a lousy, elitist detail. Or at least couch it as in, "The housekeeper was used to being treated as second-class, she was charmed when Olivia Manning gave her a soda once."
  6. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    See, I would get that if she worked for them in the 50s. But she started there in the early 80s. I understand why she would say it--she's 81, she surely could write a book about being The Help--but I just don't know why the writer included it.
  7. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    That doesn't surprise me about Olivia. While Archie grew up fairly poor in the Delta (his father worked at a farm equipment store and committed suicide the summer before Archie's sophomore year at Ole Miss), Olivia is from an old money family in Williamsville, just outside Philadelphia, Miss.
  8. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    Funny, I just started 'The Help,' and Fountain would fall right into the era when the book is set.
  9. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Is there a memo that goes out that tells suburban mothers what to read? In town I live in " The Help" seems to be the current "it" book for the ladies book clubs.
  10. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Friend of mine is in a reading club with that same book. Of course, might be same town, same club, for all we know.
  11. 21

    21 Well-Known Member

    Great book...as I said, Fountain could surely write one of her own.

    Just to be clear, I wasn't criticizing her for making the remark. I was questioning why the writer thought it was a valuable description of Olivia Manning.
  12. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    It may say a whole hell of a lot about her. If the best you can say about someone is that they gave you a Coke one particularly hot day when you walked to their house to start your chores, it's certainly damning with faint praise and puts her in a particular context.

    On the other hand, Olivia may be a real gem who did this small kindness among millions of other nice things and the Times writer included it in a spirit of anti-Southern prejudice.
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