Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Events of October

This is such an incredibly well-written story. And the amount of information, testimonials, details, stories and perspectives that are so artfully woven together is unbelievable. I feel as though there is nothing missing from this story: everything we might want to know about the characters, their backgrounds, characterization from their friends, family, details as vivid as Maggie leaving her book open on her bed, and never coming back, it's all here. What a process that must have been! I can't wait to talk to the author about what it was like to collect all of the pieces that put this story together. Not only that, but I feel it was a hard one to write given the event, and how she dealt with sensitivity surrounding that. There must have been a certain amount of time that had to pass before she felt comfortable interviewing people and asking them to uncover their memories. Even though no one was in the room with Maggie and Neenef, we get everything else. And it makes it such a vivid, real, and tribute-ive story.
Additionally, how did the author hope the story to function an closure for the event or at all? It is so difficult to reconcile something like this and understand its place in the college community. I think the story could have functioned as a sort of closure and memory of it all which is a very brave thing to write. Finally, for whom did the author intend this story and how was she sensitive to that while writing? Though I think this story is valuable to non Kalamazoo College community members, it certainly strikes more of a chord with people who know the buildings, the professors and the inter workings of the campus. How did the author deal with this if at all? How did she think about ways it could be for the students? For the families? The story certainly helps reader to understand why it happened, which is an important narrative to take away from an event like this. Would the community have received that "why" otherwise?


  1. You touch on a lot of great things here, Charlotte. The language of this piece is clearly chosen very intentionally, and is strangely beautiful. (Strangely in that it feels so eerie sometimes)—I didn't talk about that in my own post, but am glad you did.

    I think you're asking great questions here, too. I've heard from so many students that they feel a peculiar, out-of-body type sensation from reading this book, which makes me feel like it's not really intended for a K audience.

    I'm very interested in the idea of reporting things that feel mundane to us—the every-day. I know I have the hardest time when I try to write about things that are most familiar to me, and when doing so much research for a project like this, there must be slumps a writer gets into when they feel that way as well.

  2. Charlotte, you bring up a lot of great points. The amount of time and effort Gail put in to this novel is absolutely amazing. After two tedious interview processes I really admire her work ethic. I was also curious about the intended writing audience. It was very brave of Gail to write so candidly knowing that her peers and the college community would read the book. But given what she said in class, she did try to present the President, for example, from an honest yet positive perspective. What she did not shy away from, however, was her belief that the administration failed to label the murder-suicide as violence against women. I was really moved my Gail's comment about her fear that she was causing more harm than good in regard to Neenef's family. I think as journalists that's something we will face when trying to discover, and write about, the truth -- it may not always have positive results for everyone directly or indirectly involved.