On feuilletons

All the bad rap about Russell Brand reminded me that I have a copy of his biography upstairs bought in my college years and that the Talk of the Town article written about him at the New Yorker was a favorite, along with the feature on Atticus Lish. I loved that section at the New Yorker – it’s funny, witty and conniving, a cross between a biography or think pieces in its infancy, never fully realized. Its brevity makes it shine: without it, the pieces would be sappy and overwrought, but with much grafting and omission it stands out the way stories from friends are memorable when shared confidingly in constrained environments (quick meeting over drinks, chance meet-ups). I did desk research on what the genre is called some three years ago, so esoteric that the word slipped in my head, yet so urgent that I had to google it as soon as I woke up today. I was thinking along the lines of the words “picadilly”, “Lafcadio Hearn” and “Don Quixote”, until I finally got the right search prompt: the word is feuilleton (foy/fey-ton).

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