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Dispensers of Narrative

Now that the elections are over, can the rage go away for awhile and take the rampant oversimplification of complex issues with it? That'd be really cool. I don't remember things ever being this divisive but then I haven't lived terribly long in a 24 hour news circus where the media trots out only the extremists to frame the debate. It feel like there's this country we used to be, and it's not the idealized Father-Knows-Best-lily-white-America thing the right seems to yearn for, it's just a place where things were a bit more civil.

Forget alcohol and crank and pot, the new national addiction seems to be to vitriol.Forget alcohol and crank and pot, the new national addiction seems to be to vitriol. Or maybe it's not. Maybe that's just the media ginning up the extremes to make things seem more divisive than they are. Makes for a solid dramatic narrative, I guess, and that's what the media seems to have become — dispensers of narrative. Which is funny because I thought that was the fiction writer's job. I keep thinking of that great speech Albert Brooks gives in Broadcast News when he's trying to convince Holly Hunter that she's falling for William Hurt only because he's pretty and facile, not because there's any substance there, which is a perfect metaphor for modern news:

"I believe that Tom, while a very nice guy, is the Devil. What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he's around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing...he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important. Just coax along flash over substance...Just a tiny bit.. . .And he'll get all the great women."


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Dennis Lehane is the author of nine novels including the New York Times bestsellers Gone, Baby, Gone, Mystic River; Shutter Island; and The Given Day, as well as Coronado, a collection of short stories and a play. He and his wife, Angie, divide their time between Boston and the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Gone, Baby, Gone Used Trade Paper $7.50
  2. Mystic River
    Used Mass Market $0.95
  3. Shutter Island
    Used Mass Market $2.50
  4. The Given Day
    Used Trade Paper $3.50
  5. Coronado: Stories (P.S.) Used Trade Paper $6.50
  6. Moonlight Mile
    Used Hardcover $2.75

Dennis Lehane is the author of Moonlight Mile

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