June 4: #21: Read a short story from an author whose work you've never read before.
June 5, 2017
Phil: I’ve had a few books on my bookshelf that I just never took an honest crack at. They’ve lingered over the years and I held onto them saying that “one day” I would give them a read. Since today’s assignment was to read a short story, I couldn’t necessarily read an entire book. I did, however, have the perfect book for this assignment. “The Best American Crime Reporting” by Stephen J. Dubner is a compilation of...well...some of the best American crime reporting. I flipped through the table of contents and landed on a piece that ran in New York Magazine in 2009 about the Etan Patz case. The killer of the missing child back in 1979 was recently sentenced, and we had been running stories about it at work in my newspaper. So I thought it would be awesome to delve deeper into what was being published about the case almost 10 years ago. It was fascinating to see how far the case had moved despite the murder taking place more than three decades ago. The New York Magazine piece was by Lisa R. Cohen, who worked at both CBS and ABC. She also wrote a book on the Patz case. Back then, authorities were almost certain a man named Jorge Ramos had murdered the boy. Patz’s parents eventually dropped their case against him in 2012 when another man, Pedro Hernandez, fessed up. It’s one of America’s most known crime cases and sparked nationwide efforts to track down missing children for decades to come. And by the way, the New York Magazine piece really was one of America’s best crime reporting. The details in this story were incredible. The fact that this book is no longer just a dust collector on my bookshelf is all thanks to this challenge.
Bruce: When I thought this challenge up I was thinking about how we read a lot of the same work and how some of us don't even read at all. I felt that short story would be a good compromise. I ended up reading "An Experiment In Misery“ by Stephen Crane (most famously perhaps as the writer of “Red Badge Of Courage”), in a collection that my friend Annie bought for me while on tour in Connecticut. The story was really well written and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the collection. The story focused on characters of abject poverty and the division of class and feeling unseen. The interesting coincidental part is that in this edition, the footnotes revealed that the story was opened and closed in its initial publishing with a concept that the main character was an affluent man doing a sort of extreme “challenging days” scenario where he dresses as a vagrant to understand that life. Very recommended.
Tomorrow's challenge: #9: Go a day with your phone on airplane mode