Saturday, November 26, 2011

Journalists I Have Known

I originally wrote this as part of the comment conversation on the last post, but I'd quite like to say something positive about journalists in a more accessible spot so here it is again. RIP Hume. (The other one's still alive.)

Such a strange profession.

I owe most of what I know about the art and craft of writing to one journalist, a man called Hume Dow, who was older than my parents, and who had worked on the Age, which I think was back then still the Argus, with George Johnston and Charmian Clift during WW2. Whenever he talked about the gorgeous and brilliant Clift, he was unable to finish any given sentence. He would just waver off in mid-syntactical construction and gaze off into the middle distance. Hume taught me how to proofread properly and what good 18th century prose looked like and why Hemingway in A Movable Feast, but not in his fiction so much, was a miracle of writing.

Another of my major mentors, whom I knew intimately and won't name (grounds, incriminate, etc) was also an exceptional journalist before he moved on to other pursuits. I have great respect for a number of contemporary Australian journalists (Megalogenis, Tingle, Marr, Grattan, Colvin et al), not to mention the legendary international ones, and I have just finished reading a novel about two heroic journalist-photographers, Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, who both died in the service of their vocation. And I think all these things may be why I hold the bad ones in such contempt.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The kraken formerly known as j_p_z sez:

Huh, I'm surprised to see no comments on this post, so I'll bite, but only on a minor aspect.

I'm not a big Hemingway guy but I think your assessment of A Moveable Feast is pretty much spot on (though I will say the opening paragraphs of A Farewell to Arms are so good that you pretty much don't need to read the rest of the book).

I'm curious if you can state, without its turning into a chore, what it is you learned from your mentor about that book and what you've come to think of it over time.

My rap on Hemingway is that while I personally don't dig him all that much, I can see how he was sort of "historically necessary" as it were, for the development of 20th-cent. English(which in this context is to say post-Victorian English).

A Moveable Feast to me is important for its innate virtues, but also because something that happens in that book also happened to me personally, in a way I couldn't fail to notice (well allowing for all the necessary metaphysical adjustments), which makes one meditate on the rugged durability of art and human character across generations.

What is it about the book that you find noteworthy?

Marshall Stacks said...

re Mr Hemingway: may I commend to you the film Midnight In Paris for the hilarious characterisation of Him?
hilarious.

I let the corrida get between me and his art unfortunately, but the good side of that is it lets me understand people who can't enjoy the style of The Ghost because they let the directors crimes get in the way.