in Marginalia

Johnson on rewriting

““The great rewrite man, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has the ability, Strum says, “to take scores and scores of scraps and turn them into a beautiful, coherent story, all fully attributed. He asks the reporters who do his legwork, ‘How many steps up to the apartment building where the dead man was found? Did he have on red socks or blue? Was the paint peeling off the building or was it freshly painted? How high were the houses? Were people milling about on the street or were they behind bolted doors? And then he stitches these details together brilliantly. Like a great murder mystery, except it’s all true.””

Marilyn Johnson in Dead Beat: Lost souls, lucky stiffs, and the perverse pleasures of obituaries, in an interview with Chuck Strum, obituary editor for the New York Times, while discussing obituary writer Robert D. McFadden
(Photo taken by yours truly using a Treo 650 and digitally manipulated — to use the term loosely — on Adobe Photoshop.)

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