Magic Hours

I read Tom Bissell’s Magic Hours, a good collection of nonfiction. Just gonna pull out a few parts I really liked. On small towns:

In a small town, success is the simplest arithmetic there is. To achieve it, you leave – then subsequently bore your new big-city friends with accounts of your narrow escape.

Thinking about Stories We Tell last night reminded me of this, on documentaries:

Explanatory impotence is not unique to the documentary but in some ways is abetted by the form. Inimitably vivid yet brutally compressed, documentaries often treasure image over information, proffer complications instead of conclusions, and touch on rather than explore. When a documentary film […] charts the mysteries of human behavior, an inconclusive effect can be electrifying.

Along the same lines, later, on nonfiction…

In the end, great nonfiction writing does not necessarily require any accuracy greater than that of an honest and vividly rendered confusion.

Overall, I enjoyed most of it, but not nearly as much as I liked his more focused, and somewhat more personal book Extra Lives.