Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Add Skloot to the 'Excellent Examples' List of Debut Authors

"Debut author" sounds a little bit like "overnight success." It's a label, and it doesn't say much. We must know there's a unique story behind each person we slap that label on, but slap we do.

So with due respect and admittedly not knowing her story, the label's been slapped on Rebecca Skloot. Skloot uncovered the story of Henrietta Lacks and wrote about her with integrity, determination, (a grant) and a hell of a lot of sacrifice and hard work. She ignored lots of labels along the way and cared enough to discover the unique story behind many of those labels. While reading the book, I marveled at Skloot's work at the same time I realized it paled in comparison to the amount of work Lacks did in her life. But that's just me seeing the world through my own lenses. My focus and perspective leave a lot to be desired.

Let me try again. From my writer's perspective, Skloot's account is a stellar work; it exemplifies (verylong form  journalism and historical nonfiction storytelling. Journalists, nonfiction writers, and students, please add this to your "excellent examples" list.

From my reader's perspective: damn! what a story!

 ~~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Skloot earns a spot next to Michael Lewis 
on my list of non-fiction, 
journalist/storytellers worth reading  -
and Henrietta Lacks' story was worth telling. 

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