Working Writer

October 4, 2007

Shari Caudron, “Befriending Barbie”

Filed under: assignments, craft responses, literary journalism — loganchance @ 4:28 am

This was an odd one. It may simply be because Barbies – or any sort of dolls with simulation hair – disturb the shit out of me. Caudron’s tone does have that curious amusement to a point, but felt too detached from the piece. Granted, it’s literary journalism, but this quickly becomes a story that is personal to the people she’s writing about, and to not have her apparently vastly different view contrast against it seems off if she’s not writing a straight-up news feature.

I would have liked it to simply be about Judy, with the Barbie story surrounding it. I think there was humanity in it, whereas the rest of the story had an uncomfortable Christopher Guest vibe to it that just didn’t jive with the strongest point of it – that a community’s a community regardless of its reason for existing.

I just felt that Caudron was very, very uneven in her pacing, her tone, and way off in her focus. This looks more like a pre-write than anything, and I would have liked to have seen more of Judy, where the personality and emotion really lay.

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1 Comment »

  1. I’m not sure I know what you mean–I mean, the Christopher Guest thing I get, especially at the beginning, but for me, her focus was spot on. I agree absolutely that Judy’s story and experience were the emotional heart of the piece, but I think that if we’d only had that, no matter how well developed, we’d have ended asking “why Barbie,” whereas as things are, I think Caudron comes to understand (and therefore helps us understand) exactly that, as you say, “a community’s a community regardless of its reason for existing.”

    And I really like that last, too–it describes the value of this piece better than I could have, I think. Because, as important as she is, the piece is isn’t about Judy–it’s about the community, and each person in it, to a greater or lesser extent, has shared Judy’s emotional experience of that community. Judy’s is just so extreme that she becomes our point of entry.

    Comment by honky voodoo — October 8, 2007 @ 2:58 pm


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