“Frank has a Cold” really drew me in and did a great job of combining elements to create a strong overall piece. I enjoyed the use of physical descriptions and felt they did a good job to paint a scene. I found it especially useful that the writer captured everyone’s presence; the other people in the story are as important to the whole piece as Sinatra is. Getting to see them alongside Sinatra was nice. The details about all these people and his interactions with them allowed readers to understand Sinatra more. For example, the inclusion of his toupee-woman and her weekly pay.
The writer did a good job of incorporating present events with memories. Stories such as the one about the Jeep’s paint-job allow readers to see more of Sinatra, something beyond the four or five days the reporter may have spent with him. This is addressed somewhat in Telling True Stories by Malcolm Gladwell. Reporters can’t hope to define the complexity of a person through just a couple days of conservations. These backstory memories about Sinatra and his friends give the reader more. The dialogue used by the author does this further. A writer can say how someone was acting, but the only way to truly get an idea for yourself is to hear exactly what someone is saying. The writer does this well by combining dialogue with a plethora of descriptions about the surrounding scene and action.
One thing I wondered about in the MacFarquhar piece is the idea of never talking about yourself in an interview. She describes it as a “source of power” to not reveal information about yourself. I agree that in some interviews it would not make sense to do so and obviously the focus should be on the subject. But, I don’t necessarily think reporters need to always stonewall themselves. Some people will be more willing to open up after seeing others do the same. In some cases, sharing information about yourself could break down any existing awkward dynamic.