Tuesday, May 22, 2012

David Grann Does it Again

"What's so great about David Grann?"

That's a question that's rarely asked.

And the reason it's rarely asked is simple.

If you know the name, you have almost definitely read something by him, and if you've done that, well, you understand.

To my mind, Grann is absolutely brilliant.

He's brilliant enough to have me checking The New Yorker each week to see if there's anything new by him.

He's brilliant enough to have me reading everything by Jack Hart or Robert McKee or Rebecca McClanahan in order to write more like him.

And he's brilliant enough to have never let me down (something I can't say for many writers).

If you want to judge for yourself, however--and you should--proof is easily available.

Exhibit A: The Lost City of Z

This is a book by Grann that tells of the explorer Percy Fawcett's quest to find a lost city in the Amazon jungle. Read it, and let me know what you think. Seriously, don't wait for the movie that's coming out based on it--or watch the movie, whatever, but read the book too.

Exhibit B: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes.

This is a collection of Grann's work for The New Yorker and a couple other places. You can read the book, or for a sneak peak read some of the articles in it that are free online. For example, check out "The Chameleon," "A Murder Foretold," "Trial by Fire," or even "The Lost City of 'Z'"--which became a book.

Exhibit C: "The Yankee Commandante: A story of love, revolution, and betrayal."

This is Grann's latest and, as the title of this post says, he has done it again.

By "it" I of course mean penned a masterpiece that every writer should study.

It's a piece that surprises, sickens, inspires, saddens.

You could say it "moves you" but that's far too vague.

It grips you from its start to its end.

In this way, it's like everything else written by Grann (including his article on the NYC water system).

At this point, I could analyze Grann's writing like Slate did.

I could talk about how even Grann's mom is awe-inspiring.

But I won't.

I'd just be getting in the way.

And that's not half as exhilarating as reading Grann's latest at the New Yorker.

Do that, and I'll bet you'll never again ask:

"What's so great about David Grann?"

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