Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Documenting Life

In Gonnerman's book, Life on the Outside, it bewilders me how much detail is presented to the reader. The main character, Ellaine Barrlett's life is already extremely interesting, heart-wrenching and humanizing in its essence, however Gonnerman manages to sketch out facial features, exact times, emotions, telephone calls, what was bought and from which bodega, and from who, dialogue, and specific outfits. Her scrupulousness gives the story an even greater humanizing effect, humor, sadness... and also adds to its legitimacy.

I am perplexed at how someone else could ever write such a personal account for someone other than themselves? It is as though Gonnerman became a bar on Elaine's prison cell, a fly on the wall of apartment 13B, and a member of the family, it seems. I am extremely impressed with her ability to make the story so personal and devout to detail, while still being on the outside of Elaine's experience.

1 comment:

Ed said...

Glad you focused on those words—I'm excited to discuss the journalistic stance that JG is taking here.