|Photo by Victor J. Blue|
Stephen Marche, in his “David Shields’s Reality Hunger in the Age of Trump; or, How to Write Now” (Los Angeles Review of Books, August 5, 2017), claims, “Nobody believes that journalists are communicating reality.” What? Nobody believes Luke Mogelson, in his extraordinary “The Avengers of Mosul” (The New Yorker, February 6, 2017), is communicating the reality of war against ISIS? Nobody believes Ben Taub, in his brilliant “We Have No Choice” (The New Yorker, April 10, 2017), is communicating the reality of the African refugee crisis? Nobody believes Danielle Allen, in her searing “American Inferno” (The New Yorker, July 24, 2017), is communicating the reality of her fifteen-year-old cousin’s descent into crime, prison, and eventual death? What are these pieces – imitations of reality? No, they’re the thing itself – life as it actually is. Marche is right to complain about writers’ “willingness to blur fact and fiction.” He calls it “profoundly willfully stupid.” But he fails to allow for the abundance of great factual reporting still being written today. His rant against “post-fact” writing is too sweeping.
Credit: The above photo by Victor J. Blue is from Luke Mogelson’s “The Avengers of Mosul” (The New Yorker, February 6, 2017).