Monday, July 30, 2007

Jersey Writing Stuff (Non-Fiction)

Newspapers may be going the way of the mammoth, but I happen to live in a zone with a pretty good one. What's more, the columnists of my local Newark Star-Ledger are beginning to establish a credible presence in the 'sphere.

Stephen Whitty, the terrific film reviewer and columnist who has read for the Spoken Word Series, has always been very interactive with his readers, but now has a blog that accelerates those interactions into a real dialog. I'm not as much of a filmgoer as I used to be (though that's starting to change as the kids become suitable viewing partners), but I find his reviews extremely well-crafted and enjoyable even when all I know of a movie is its television hype. His profiles of film stars are great reading.

It helps to be interested in NJ politics, but even if you're not you'll appreciate the craft in Paul Mulshine's columns and now in his blog. Mulshine is a devout Parrothead (if a non-member of the following may be permitted to use the word) and defender of the sanity and responsibility of the individual in NJ, and his essays are infused with cultural, political, and personal insight.

They're not blogging -- yet -- but the columns of Kathleen Shea and Kathleen O'Brien (the Jersey one, not the Texas one or any of the others that lurk beneath the surface of Google search) are available at the site, and if you're not as fortunate as I to live within their circulations, I really encourage you to stop by. The former Kathleen's Bad Mother Reports have a tremendous following (ardent enough to get people to a reading in Hoboken who had never attended a live reading OR been to Hoboken!), and she's great fun to work with. The latter can wander anywhere from behavioral evolution in society to next-stall celluar etiquette. Wait, that's pretty much the same thing, isn't it?

I have been tending toward non-fiction (the historical sort) in most of my non-poetry leisure reading for about a year, and I've really come to appreciate good practitioners (because there are some awful ones - particularly executing parenting and 20th century history books). These four writers are consistently good, entertaining and insightful, and I recommend them, their still-fine newspaper, and their burgeoning web presences to you.

Next up: Weighing in on the weight of the comics. Sneak preview: The only rational argument also applies to editing an anthology or your own manuscript.

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