More lovely literary journalism stuff

  • The International Association for Literary Journalism Studies has a webpage and a very fine journal which you can find here.
  • David Abrahamson runs the IALJS newsletter, a good source of information and his site has links to further resources.

Then some gleanings from the keynote speaker Robert Boynton (who teaches at New York University):

  • Byliner.com: fiction and nonfiction, short stories and articles, sign up and get email alerts.
  • Longform.org: again, sign up and get alerts.
  • Atavist.com: a group of writers, editors, and software developers “dedicated to the art of storytelling”.
  • Hazlitt: Random House in Canada’s new “digital habitat” publishing everything interesting (nice site).

And don’t forget Mampoer, run by Anton Harber. And if you’re interested in my presentation (“Mark Gevisser’s Portraits of Power: Giving white South Africans interlocutors to negotiate a post-apartheid world”) you can find it here.

Next year Paris! (here’s hoping!)

Chains of desire

Off to a good start at IALJS 8 with Robert Alexander using Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief to show that there is a narrative drive in literary journalism to produce a story that is satisfying as story but which also produces meaning. The narrative drive pushes towards closure but this might be so at odds with meaning that the story might not be able to achieve closure.

Alexander used the idea of desire to say that writer, source and reader (through their expectations of genre) all come to the story invested. “A chain of desires saturates the process,” he said. In Orlean’s quest to find the ghost orchid in the Florida swamps she depends on her guide John Laroche to immerse her into his obsession and lead her to it. Thigh deep in swamp they don’t find it, “the story depends on the stability of Laroche’s desire” but the actual source is unreliable and unable to sustain his passion and with it her narrative arc. “Sources cannot be reduced to types of their desires,” he said.

IALJS 8

Dateline: Tampere, Finland
Subject: literary journalism around the world (with two contributions from South Africa)
Who: a whole bunch of literary journalism scholars
First up: “Subjectivities and agency in literary journalism” with Robert Alexander, Lindsay Morton, Hilde van Belle and Maria Vanoost.
Then: “Notes toward a supreme nonfiction: teaching literary reportage in the 21st century” by Robert Boynton.

It’s going to be a goodie! Watch this space for reports.