The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism

The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism

The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism

The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism

Synopsis

Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais is perhaps best known for her insightful essays chronicling the experiences of the disadvantaged and dispossessed members of our society. This volume gathers fifteen of her most memorable essays, vivid portraits that speak to the realities of contemporary American experience.

Excerpt

Geneva Overholser

What is it about really fine writers, how they delight, intrigue, compel us?

Style, you say. But style is not something you begin with. Rather, it's what you end up with, a result of far more fundamental traits. Traits such as an ear and an eye and a heart, traits that Madeleine Blais has honed superbly well.

This is a book well named: The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism. The heart is surely first among Blais's gifts. Whether she is writing about the famous -- playwright Tennessee Williams, novelist Mary Gordon -- or about the least elevated among us -- a teenage prostitute infected with the AIDS virus, a homeless schizophrenic --she brings to her subjects an incomparable empathy.

It's not that she sides with them. She's uncompromising in her portraits. Rather, she seems to come to know them so completely that she can bring them to life: their strengths and weaknesses, their humanness. She makes the mighty into normal mortals. She makes the strange comprehensible.

One of the gifts she brings us is her ear, an ear that hears and records and remembers with remarkable clarity. This is a writer who recalls from childhood the curiosity-engaging quality of a headline like "Canadian Jury Acquits Man in . . .

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