The Art of the Matter
Shaping the raw material of fact with the creative tools of fiction, the literary journalists reveal a deeper truth
A funny thing happened to David Macfarlane at about this time last spring. The first anniversary of the Progressive Conservatives’ rise to power in Ontario was approaching and Toronto Life wanted a profile of Premier Mike Harris. Macfarlane accepted the assignment, and aware of his reputation for writing quirky and unorthodox profiles, he set his mind to doing this one with no bells and whistles. No tricks.
Embarking on a dead-straight traditional profile, Macfarlane spent many mornings in the bookshelf-lined office of his downtown Toronto home, putting in calls to the premier’s office. He was looking forward, nervously, to a joust of some sort with Harris-to engaging him in argument about the income tax cut or the privatization of TVOntario. What transpired over the following weeks, however, turned anticipation to frustration. Interviews were put off, said to be just around the corner, bumped and cancelled. If worse came to worst, Macfarlane figured the story would get killed. It wouldn’t be his fault particularly.
While waiting one morning for Harris’ PR guy to call him back-as he was always waiting for calls, from probably the most junior of PR guys-Macfarlane became interested in how Harris was being so uncooperative. Uncooperative, yet polite and encouraging-never actually saying “No.” He would have preferred it if Harris and his handlers had told him to get lost. But it soon became apparent that this situation was not accidental. The Toronto Life magazine writer was not high on Harris’ list of priorities. And he began to wonder why. Macfarlane tried to see it from Harris’ point of view, and then, out of amusement as much as anything else, he sat down and wrote himself a letter.
So, Mr. Downtown magazine writer. What do I think about Mike Harris? I’ll tell you what I think about Mike Harris. I think you’re the last person in the fucking province who’s going to understand Mike Harris….So, you said his press people have been giving you the runaround? You poor baby….Tell me something. What do you expect?….You think his press people don’t have your number? You think they don’t know you’re going to announce to your readers-sipping their cappuccinos, listening to their CB-fucking-C-that he’s not very urbane? Not very sophisticated? Not very well-read?…
The thing is, speaking politically, speaking tactically, speaking in terms of reality-you are aware of the existence of reality, aren’t you?-Mike Harris doesn’t give a stale fart in a high wind what you prefer. And if you don’t know that yet, you know what? You know fuck-all about Mike Harris. And less about Ontario.
And the letter went on, taking up three of the article’s six pages. What exactly would you call this piece of writing? It could be called literary journalism-mixing traditional reportage with storytelling techniques, such as narrative, dialogue and metaphor. Indeed, “The King of Common Sense,” is strong on narrative voice. What’s unusual, however, is its brazenly one-sided and almost entirely fictional nature. Literary or not, aren’t the foundations of journalism objectivity and solid factual reporting? Can such a piece of writing, despite the wit and insight it exhibits, be considered journalism at all?
As a fledgling journalist I’d often been entranced by the power and magic of literary journalism. Literary journalists, in how and why they do what they do, bring to journalism what storytellers-and social scientists and historians-have known for years: that stories with a beginning, middle and end, plot, scenes and character development, are more likely to penetrate readers’ consciousness and help them take in information.
Lawrence Weschler is, for me, one of those journalists who reaches across the boundary between literary journalism and traditional reportage, writing for The New Yorker on culture and politics in what he calls his passion pieces: “Concerned with people that were just moseying down the street one day, minding their own business, when suddenly they caught fire, they became intensely focussed and intensely alive-ending up, by day’s end, somewhere altogether different from where they’d imagined they were setting out that morning.” And Weschler aims to have a similar effect on his readers. “My writerly strategy,” he says, “is to start you reading a piece where you don’t quite know why you are reading it. It seems to be at an angle, but through sheer narrative energy you read it for a while, you go along with me, and about halfway through you realize it’s about the most important things on earth.” Weschler describes his version of literary journalism as trying to be true to life. “True to life requires that there be an inhabited and incarnated point of view,” he says. “If what you’re interested in is the wonder of being on earth, you’d better find a way that doesn’t kill it in the telling.”
Weschler isn’t so willing to discuss how his nonfiction pieces might verge on fiction, and by what artistic liberties. “I think we are in dangerous terrain,” he says to a simple question about cleaning up quotes. “What I want to do is write in a way that the reader comes alive. This should not be a relationship where I am lording over you and you are receiving divine wisdom from me. I don’t know everything. I am going to be making statements that are things I feel to be true. They are not necessarily true,” Weschler continues. “It’s a Socratic exercise: I’m a little gadfly buzzing around, and at the end, I’ve got you in some way woken up, perturbed. From there, I want you to take responsibility.”
Careful readers of The Globe and Mail may have been woken up on June 16, 1996, when from amid the usual ink spilt on Canadian-Press-style stories, an article by John Stackhouse leapt from the page. “Pilgrims Meet Death at Hindu Shrines,” read the headline.
The first crush comes from the heat, then from the push of a dozen hands on the back and shoulders and arms, and finally from the realization that there is no thought in a crowd: There is only movement.
As the temperament swirls insanely into a mad, desperate current of chaos, there is terror, fright, fleeting hope, hysteria and, above all, the mighty animal instinct of survival.
It can engulf rich U.S. kids at a Who concert in Cincinnati or hungry refugees in a tented camp in Somalia. But almost nowhere is the titanic weight of a crowd greater than in India, where the terror of a stampede struck again yesterday in two places, killing 60 people.
So much for the inverted pyramid. Sixty people were trampled in India. That’s the fact. But what of this temperament, desperation, fright, fleeting hope, hysteria and instinct for survival? It also seems, in a way, like literary journalism: telling a story, giving a sense of being there and explaining why things happen, along with the cold, hard fact that they did.
Seeking some facts to back up this philosophizing and casual observation, I looked up Norman Sims and Mark Kramer. Sims, a professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts, and Kramer, a journalist and professor at Boston University, are coeditors of Literary Journalism, published in 1995, the most recent of two anthologies chronicling the history and logistics of the form.
Like Weschler, Kramer considers the power of literary journalism to be in the strength of its narrative voice. And these days, Kramer sees literary journalism changing in where and how it is done. He gives as an example the annual meeting of the Associated Press Managing Editors in September 1996. “The APME devoted an entire day to teaching and explaining narrative methods-to, of all people, the managing editors of major newspapers,” says Kramer. “When editors of newspapers come to adopt some of the attributes of literary journalism-that is, they come to stories more narratively and allow some version of the writer’s individual voice-I would say the formality level of literary journalism is shifting. It’s becoming more formal, more pointed.” In his view, literary journalism offers something that straight reporting lacks, providing not only facts and figures but a vision of how things fit together. “If it is not an antidote to bewilderment, at least it unites daily experiences-including emotional ones-with the wild plenitude of information.”
Norman Sims agrees, but feels that literary journalism itself has untapped potential. “It may be that one of the challenges literary journalism needs is to talk about larger groups of people the way investigative reporting does,” says Sims. “To explore the effect an event or person has on a whole community. It’s as writer Nick Lemann has suggested: let’s see where we can move literary journalism in terms of its intellectual content and explanatory power.”
But Sims wouldn’t have me take it from him. “I’m not a writer,” he says. “I’m an academic. My advice to you is to stick close to what the writers tell you. Literary journalism is a form that is defined and maintained, created and maintained by the writers.”
Talking to writers about literary journalism involves listening to a lot of disclaimers, qualifiers and parenthetical remarks. Writers lurch and stutter in referring to themselves as literary journalists and to their work as literary journalism.
“Litera…” Macfarlane starts to say, staring up at the ground-level window of his basement office. “What we’re calling literary journalism, for these purposes,” he qualifies.
“I don’t know about literary,” ponders Ian Brown, sqwunched by his desk at CBC Radio’s Toronto office, where he currently hosts the radio program Sunday Morning. “Readable, maybe.”
“More than just a journalist,” says Lindalee Tracey, hiding a cigarette from her six-year-old. “More ordinary, more well rounded.”
So what’s the kerfuffle with the name? Literary journalism, creative nonfiction, literary nonfiction-or whatever you want to call it-has always been hard to define. But even though journalists who work in its realm are unsure about the nomenclature, they have solid ideas about what it is, where it’s been and where it’s going.
“This is a big burden you’re carrying around,” Lindalee Tracey tells me. “You’re asking your brain to be academic about something that is really in the groin and in the heart. You can kill it by talking about it too much.” Indeed, in talking to writers, I came across the same criticisms that have haunted literary journalism for years-the fact-versus-truth debate was fascinating to me, but old news for those who had been inspired by the “new journalists” of the early sixties like Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese, Truman Capote and Hunter S. Thompson. “What Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone as their political correspondent was amazing stuff,” remembers David Macfarlane. “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail was wild. Really wild, wild, wild stuff. He took the world that the journalist always kept out of the piece and he put it back in. It cut through the PR machinery and all the accepted campaign language. It was the time of drugs and rock and roll, and to have this crazy, stoned persona cutting through was amazing. It really rang true.”
And then, as veteran magazine editor Don Obe puts it, “the goods news travelled north.” Obe remembers editing with Tom Hedley in the early seventies at Maclean’s (when it was still a monthly, general-interest book) and encouraging the first of Canada’s literary journalism in writers Harry Bruce, Melinda McCracken and Philip Marchand. From there, the pioneers eventually branched out to Toronto Life,Saturday Night and the Saturday supplements, Weekend and The Canadian. Robert Fulford edited Saturday Night for 19 years, all the while building its reputation for making literary journalism very much part of the bargain with both readers and backers. “From the first day I started at Saturday Night in 1968,” says Fulford, “I was interested in writers who saw the world and shaped their work according to a literary ideal and a literary imagination.” Into the late seventies and early eighties, Canadian variations on literary journalism became well established by people like Marq de Villiers, John Gault, Earl McRae, Roy MacGregor, Barry Callaghan and Ron Graham-writers who, as Obe recalls, “were winning every National Magazine Award conceivable.” Magazines and writers now only dabble in literary journalism as much as time and expense allow, but the National Magazine Awards still consistently celebrate journalism with a literary influence: recent winners have included Gerald Hannon’s “Tomson and the Trickster,” a profile of playwright Tomson Highway, and Judith Timson’s “Down and Out in Hazelton Lanes,” about the effect of the early-nineties recession on a high-end shopping mall.
Despite the rewards, Robert Fulford explains, “there are times when almost every editor, in trying to get the magazine out, has to say, ‘I only want a bad piece-I don’t want it good, I want it Tuesday.'” And there are times when almost every journalist, faced with the exhausting labour and economic disadvantage of doing a feature-length article, chooses to say, “I might as well write a book.” Which is what many journalists are doing these days. In fact, literary articles published in magazines are often excerpts from books, such as Charles Foran’s Sketches in Winter, a memoir about his time in China after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Marni Jackson’s The Mother Zone and Gary Ross’ At Large: The Fugitive Odyssey of Murray Hill and His Elephants, all of which ran in Saturday Night.
In surveying writers about literary journalism, some considered Farley Mowat’s work as an antecedent of the form, although Mowat himself denies his writing belongs to any genre other than storytelling. Nevertheless, the recently exhumed debate over the factual accuracy of Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf and People of the Deer provides a good example of the contentious line between fiction and nonfiction that literary journalism often straddles. “This is how I see the pursuit of facts,” Mowat says. “It’s like looking at the bones of an animal. You can separate out all the bones and look at them, but you don’t get any real idea of how the animal lived its life.”
Wade in any further and you get highfalutin justifications of literary journalism as illuminating a greater truth, with the so-called objective and third-person construction of hard news being the biggest fiction of all. Literary journalism becomes an amalgam of philosophy and metaphysics. At the core of literary journalism, however, is its use of narrative-a technique traditionally reserved for fiction-to tell nonfiction stories. “If writers are working well as storytellers,” Mowat says, “they reflect the world in which we live. Perhaps they give a little leadership here and there. They might even direct people’s attention to disastrous situations or great injustices. Or they might just entertain.”
David Macfarlane had been mildly amused in writing the letter to himself about Harris. And Nigel Dickson, the photographer assigned to the Harris piece, asked, “What’s this? A joke?” of a ranting fax he received from Macfarlane in preparation for the shoot. “Well, I don’t know,” said Macfarlane. “I was sort of thinking it’s my piece.”
As Macfarlane remembers, Dickson was dubious. Macfarlane himself was somewhat surprised. He wasn’t exactly sure where the cheeky narrative had come from. It had been there in the background as he went about his research: talking to people, hanging around Queen’s Park, attending a PC fundraiser-it was a distillation of voices Macfarlane had heard as he focussed on getting the dead-straight traditional profile.
“As a magazine journalist,” Macfarlane says, “you are often frustrated by what your intuition tells you the truth of the story is-the existence of an inside world-and the inability to get at it.” Harris wasn’t going to allow the article to proceed by traditional means. His intention was to force a superficial profile, like the dozens that had come before. Macfarlane wasn’t going to be able to get at anything that was new or factually informative. So instead, he went at it from a different angle. He created a portrait of Harris that was informative in an emotional way.
“If you’re going to make a choice about doing an unorthodox narrative story, you have to have a damn good reason,” Macfarlane says. “If I’m inventing the voice, I’m inventing the narrator and letting everything else play its traditional journalistic role.” And after punching out a few pages of the rant, Macfarlane realized that The Voice would in some ways be representative of Harris-or, at the least, Macfarlane’s educated guess about who Harris was.
While Macfarlane uses narrative to draw out his subject and draw in the reader, Lindalee Tracey, in her style of literary journalism, tells people’s stories by immersing herself in their world.
Tracey has been called an advocacy journalist for the unfiltered perspective and concern she expresses in her articles. “A statement I earned,” Tracey says, referring to the four months she spent living among illegal immigrants in 1991 researching “The Uncounted Canadians,” for Toronto Life. “It’s totalimmersion.”
Miguel shifts carefully in his crouch, watching the lights blink across the river. Canada-que linda! How lovely….
He waits. The single beam from a train engine throws its milky light across the rail yard. He lies flat on the ground,… watching the light strike each blade of grass. The engine rolls inches from his face. Suddenly he snaps up on his legs, sprints, then hoists himself into the CN boxcar, scrambling breathlessly into its blackest corner. “Puta,” he whispers. Shit. He’s lost his hat….
Miguel listens through the iron clatter of wheels. He knows he’s approaching Canada….He inches to the door, peering out, then jumps. It’s almost dawn as he walks along the track at the edge of town. He’s startled to see my car pull up. I’ve waited all night for someone to cross the bridge.
When Tracey approached Miguel he was absolutely stuck to the ground with fear. “No no no no. Don’t worry,” she reassured him, with her hands held up in the air. “I don’t have any guns, I have no badges, I’m a friend.” Tracey tried to explain that she was concerned about what was going on, that people were getting hurt and that the public didn’t understand. “That I didn’t want to hurt him, but I wanted to understand. And could he please help me understand.”
Tracey learned a lot from Miguel because her style and depth of research made her familiar with the world he was travelling in. “I knew that place,” says Tracey. “I’d spent so much time there, looking across the border, figuring out what would be the best entry points. If I had been an illegal that’s where I would have come across. You just have to imagine: If you were running from the cops, how the hell would you get out? Don’t take anybody else’s word for it, put yourself in those shoes. Be afraid, be very afraid.”
As a result, “The Uncounted Canadians” is informative in both an emotional and intellectual way, mixing the individual stories of illegal immigrants such as Miguel with the necessary facts and statistics. “I’m a servant to the doctrines of journalism. I have to be to be taken seriously,” Tracey says. “That’s where my strength lies. Without those confines I’d be sprawled out, too soppy and syrupy. But I’m not limited by journalism. To me the facts as news are not what’s important-what’s important is the state of humanity. Keep in mind that literary journalism is here because people are excited enough to invent it-to push boundaries, to push borders. I don’t think people do it lightly. They do it because some stories have to be told in a certain way.”
Kenneth Whyte, editor of Saturday Night magazine, wouldn’t necessarily agree. Whyte acknowledges that good magazines have always used fictional forms to tell nonfiction stories. “If you go back and read McClure’s magazine at the turn of the century,” Whyte says with a mildewed April 1904 issue on display behind him, “you find some of the best examples of literary journalism. It was the best magazine ever, with writers like Ida Tarbell, Ray Stannard Baker and Lincoln Steffens using novelistic techniques to tell stories about Standard Oil, the coalfields and busting the trusts. And that was before it was called literary journalism. It was just good journalism.” But Whyte thinks that literary journalism, as it’s done today, too often involves nothing more than a knockoff of the style without any substance. “A lot of what passes for literary journalism now lacks intellectual credibility,” he says. It’s for that reason, as a recent Globe article reported, that Whyte is steering Saturday Night away from “disengaged and self-indulgent” literary journalism and toward writing that “engages” readers with “spirited debate.”
That may be more easily said than done, however, because in Whyte’s experience it’s difficult to find reporters, especially young ones, with good research skills, sharp minds and a willingness to learn how the world operates-more difficult than finding reporters capable of setting scenes and telling a story. With that in mind, Whyte wasn’t at all surprised I wanted to talk to him about literary journalism: with my being a student of magazine journalism at Ryerson, he figured I’d be inclined to see all of existence as material for literary journalism. “Not every story in the world should be done with literary journalism,” he cautions. “That’s what I think journalism schools too often teach: that all journalism should be literary journalism.”
Not quite. Even the fledgling journalist is well aware that stories often warrant a more analytical or traditional telling-that how you tell a story is just as important as what you tell, and that all stories should be literary no more than all stories should be argumentative.
Still, Whyte holds hard to his aversion to literary journalism for being tired and formulaic. “Too often, we hear about what a Supreme Court justice had for breakfast or which senator a journalist followed to the washroom instead of what these people are involved in and why they are important,” says Whyte. “There are times when accuracy suffers because of the writer’s desire to fit a fiction form to a nonfiction story. The imperative of storytelling can get in the way of an accurate depiction.”
“Can’t you have both? Don’t you have to have both?” Ian Brown would argue in return, as he did with Whyte when this issue came up at Toronto’s Word on the Street book and magazine fair last fall. “You can’t shirk analysis. You can always find a way to be rigourous about the facts and tell it as a story. You have to make it readable.” That’s how Brown approached his stories for the Globe in the 1980s, such as his 1985 article on the Senate:
Senator Frith….embodies the Ottawa ideal of The Senator: mysterious lawyerly brilliance,…handtooled suits, broadcast-quality voice, towering height…and complete verbal fluency. This includes the rare ability-a well-known but infrequently discussed male Establishment confidence trick-to whisk into the washroom of the Parliamentary dining room, and, without once breaking the flow of conversation, urinate and comb his hair, as if he were in the middle of someone’s living room and it were the most natural thing in the world to be chatting to someone who is taking notes while he urinates.
Some would question which is the more unnatural part of this scenario: the senator’s talking and peeing while the journalist takes notes, or the journalist’s taking notes while the senator talks and pees. But that’s Ian Brown’s approach to literary journalism-following the story where it takes him, in this case quite literally. “I’m not interested in pure information for information’s sake,” he says. “You have to proceed from what obsesses you, as a writer and as a reporter.” With Brown that involves poring over seemingly trivial but interesting and telling details-status details, as he and other literary journalists call them. The men’s room dalliance became a metaphor for the ailing state of the Senate. “Gradually, I realized the meaning of Senator Frith’s confidence trick,” Brown remembers. “That the male WASP political brain-in being so big, so comprehensive and so intelligent-demonstrated the problem with the Senate: it had a huge brain, a huge mind, a huge abstract quality. But no body.”
A more recent example of small detail speaking to larger meaning was Preston Manning’s new haircut and the week’s worth of headlines it attracted. That might have been a story for Ian Brown to pursue, if Kenneth Whyte-acting somewhat out of character-hadn’t done it first. “The truth is,” writes Whyte in Saturday Night‘s November 1996 editorial, “[Preston Manning’s] new coif deserves attention, if for no other reason than it reveals the lengths to which Manning and his party are now prepared to go to groom themselves for government.” Whyte opens and closes his editorial with similar ponderings, and in between gives plenty of the political analysis he’s famous for, but which on its own might not sustain the attention of his magazine’s changing readership.
As Saturday Night increasingly focusses on argumentative rather than literary articles, newspapers like the Globe have long since moved away from the eighties’ trend of articles with a classic literary influence, if for no other reason than economics. Another explanation, as Ian Brown suggests, is that literary journalism undermines the newspaper’s illusion of being the definitive package of wisdom.
“Pay your buck and you’ll be well informed-everything you need to know is in there. This is the fundamental pretense of the newspaper,” says Brown, an avid Globe reader nevertheless. “There are two kinds of information,” he explains. “There’s the information you know you want to know. That’s the information newspapers traffic in. Then there’s the information you didn’t know you wanted to know. That’s the stuff literary journalism traffics in. You don’t read Anna Karenina to find out what happens when a train hits a woman. You read it to come face-to-face with destiny. Newspapers try to include literary journalism because people like to read it. But they are also afraid of it, because it reveals the paucity of the majority of the stuff that’s in the paper.”
Beyond the limitations of cost and comparisons of quality, Sarah Murdoch, associate editor of the Globe and editor of the Focus section, has yet another explanation for the dwindling amounts of old-fashioned literary journalism: time poverty. “I think we are all too short of time,” says Murdoch. “We subscribe to The New Yorker and they form this guilty pile next to our beds.” In an office stacked with newspapers from around the world and one lonely cover of an eighties New Yorker pinned to her bulletin board-perhaps a memento of the last one she read-Murdoch observes that there is a shift going on in journalism. “If you can see pictures on CNN, it’s hard for a newspaper to match the events of the day without doing something a little more ambitious,” she says.
Wouldn’t one possible solution be to take advantage of the fact that newspaper readers devote time to exactly that-reading-and thus to invest in some more lengthy and literary articles for readers to feast their eyes on?
“I don’t know whether the solution takes the form of literary journalism,” Murdoch says. “I don’t know that literary journalism even enters into that argument.” So far the Globe‘s answer to this dilemma has been in the redesign of the Focus section. “People want us to cut to the chase and give them something to mull over and think about, and improve their own analytic faculties about issues around them,” she says. Focus provides that by combining short and snappy info boxes with feature articles that are “provocative and heavy on argument-very writerly, textured pieces which have a voice and where you can feel that the information is being strained through the writer’s psyche. I guess in a way that’s what you mean by literary journalism,” Murdoch says. “Relatively few articles lend themselves to classic literary journalism. But maybe there’s a hybrid now. Maybe it can still be beautifully written, but have real argument at its base. Maybe there’s a new New Journalism. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is. And I like to think that once in a while we achieve it.”
David Macfarlane achieves literary journalism more often than not, and by the end of the Harris profile Macfarlane’s reputation for quirky, unorthodox pieces had once again been reinforced. In deciding whether to use the ranting voice as part of the article, his litmus test had been sending a draft to Toronto Life editor John Macfarlane. “He could have called back and said, ‘This is amusing, but it’s not a magazine article,'” says David Macfarlane. But John Macfarlane thought it was brilliant. “He called back and said, ‘This is right, this is funny, people are going to pay attention to it.'”
Indeed, people did take notice of the profile-and in ways you would least expect. Macfarlane’s neighbour lit into him because he felt it was apolitical and didn’t take a stand. “I thought this was a revealing thing for him to say about what’s happening in journalism.” Macfarlane says. “I’m not supposed to take a position. I found it odd, this notion that I should argue a certain point of view.”
Even more peculiar was that after the piece was published, sources at Queen’s Park who had denied Macfarlane interviews suddenly wanted to talk to him. One night Macfarlane found himself at a dinner party where an old friend of the host had invited himself along specifically to meet the journalist behind “The King of Common Sense.” “This guy had worked closely with Harris on the election campaign, and is now a lobbyist for God-knows-who,” Macfarlane recalls. “So this guy shows up and he was exactly The Voice. He was smart, he was charming, very tough-minded, difficult to argue against, cruel in his right-wing views-and profane.”
“Why does David Macfarlane sink so low in using the language of the gutter in his article on Mike Harris?” asked multitudes of letters to the editor at Toronto Life. Dirty words are not something Macfarlane uses gratuitously in his writing. They were part of the profile’s narrative voice because he had come to see the stereotypical Harris supporter, if not Harris himself, as having a vocabulary of little else. “The profanity in David Macfarlane’s article on Mike Harris does not shock us enough to hide the fact that he didn’t get his story,” wrote another aghast reader.
But as Macfarlane found out that night at the dinner party, he did get his story. The self-invited guest hadn’t sought Macfarlane out to cut down the profile. Instead, he went out of his way to confirm for Macfarlane that his intuitions had been correct, telling him, “Well, you certainly found the premier’s favourite word.”
“I found that quite revealing,” says Macfarlane. “Harris would never, ever in a million years say ‘fuck’ in front of me in an interview. He goes into an interview and there’s a certain image he wants to get across-to be bland, because it doesn’t do him any good not to be bland. But he apparently isn’t bland in cabinet meetings, and not bland on the homefront, and not bland on the golf course. He’s profane. And that was there in the article.”
Siobhan Roberts was the Front of the Book Editor for the Spring 1997 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.