FanDuel - WFBC

December 23, 2005

Another Pulitzer for Mitch Albom?: I dare anyone to read this without being moved.

posted by commander cody to other at 02:22 AM - 30 comments

Sorry, moving story, but the writing is awful. I really really wish he hadn't written it. Thanks for the post though.

posted by loquax at 02:53 AM on December 23

If that wins so much as a high-school composition prize, I'm giving up forever. The story itself isn't even that moving - young man goes to war, dies and is missed - it's sad, but it's hardly a fresh enough look at a familiar subject to move me. All that aside, apart from the fact that the guy once played some sports at school, what's the sporting connection exactly?

posted by JJ at 03:32 AM on December 23

Every man's death diminishes me. But bad writing angries up the blood. I'm sure he deserved better. Pullet surprise? Hardly.

posted by owlhouse at 03:53 AM on December 23

Since when do people who can't even tie two sentences together that are of the same subject or spell correctly without spell check, talk about an author's writing. Good job of bringing a hero's death home to the small town in all of us. I pray that his family will receive the grace and strength needed from the Lord to continue on with their lives as I am sure he would have wanted.

posted by coach at 05:37 AM on December 23

I can effectively link two sentences together, and I rarely have to use spell check, thank you very much. That being said, I'd rather read Frank Deford or David Halberstam anyday over the hackneyed crap that Mitch Albom writes.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 05:47 AM on December 23

All that aside, apart from the fact that the guy once played some sports at school, what's the sporting connection exactly? High school football and high school wrestling. They're considered sports. As for the piece--the point of the story was made, and that was the important thing. Perhaps it could have been delivered better. But you'll see good writing and bad writing on any newspaper or blog you go to. On newspapers, oftentime deadlines get in the way of good writing. And any writer--even an award-winning columnist--has good and bad days. The point of the story was the young Michigan athlete, his sacrifice, and how it affected an entire town. Perhaps the story was told in a way or method some did not like. But then, the writing was not the point of the story.

posted by roberts at 06:04 AM on December 23

The point of the story was the young Michigan athlete, his sacrifice, and how it affected an entire town. Perhaps the story was told in a way or method some did not like. But then, the writing was not the point of the story.[emphasis mine] But arguably, it was the point of the link which was titled Another Pulitzer for Mitch Ablom?. The answer is no; the writing is not of that caliber. The hometown-kid-dies-in-war story is like a Cinderella story: it has been done many, many times. Because of that, it is either a ridiculously easy story to write, because it is a formula, right down to the distinctive phrasings...or it's incredibly difficult, as you struggle to reinvent an old formula and make it new and compelling. With stories like this -- and Ablom chose his subject; we didn't choose it for him -- there's not much in between. I could be totally wrong here, but I don't think Ablom even broke a writerly sweat on this one. Every human life has unique and amazing stories in it, and Ablom has utterly failed to call them out. Instead, he presented us with a series of images -- the high school sports, the best buddies going to war together, the knock on the mother's door -- that have been played out over two thousand times in this war alone. He has failed to reinvent these images and make them uniquely compelling; he has, instead, taken this story of a real life and made it read like a Hallmark movie. In so doing, it is Ablom, and not any of his critics, who has done his subject a profound disservice. now spellcheck that.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:11 AM on December 23

That wasn't too bad. A little cloying perhaps, but definitely moving. It's just so bloody manipulative.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:18 AM on December 23

High school football and high school wrestling. They're considered sports. So now any story about anyone who played sport at school is a sports story? The guy wasn't a sportsman, he was a marine. If every story about every marine who played sport at school and then had the tragic misfortune to die in battle were posted here, there wouldn't be room for anything else. Since when do people who can't even tie two sentences together that are of the same subject or spell correctly without spell check, talk about an author's writing. That guy's an author like I'm a dictionary salesman. Any FPP that asks if the piece linked is likely to win a Pulitzer sort of invites comments about the quality of the writing, especially when the piece is so pathetic.

posted by JJ at 08:29 AM on December 23

I'm glad you've all become literary critics today. The story is a sad one whether you like M. Albom or not. I think the point of the link is, "the story is moving", not necessarilly the writing. Perhaps the subject has been overdone a bit, but in times of war we should expect it to be. Instead of ripping Albom, sympathize with the family and friends of all of those that have fallen in battle.

posted by stockman1021 at 08:39 AM on December 23

Since when do people who can't even tie two sentences together that are of the same subject or spell correctly without spell check, talk about an author's writing. Nise pernt. Huked on fonix reely wurked fur me.

posted by drevl at 08:43 AM on December 23

I'm glad you've all become literary critics today. O critic-of-critics, some of us are literary critics every day. On a more serious note: what's so wrong about commenting on writing when the FPP calls it out? Rail at commander cody if you don't like it, not at us -- he's the one who went there. And don't go turning our comments on the writing quality into lack of sympathy for military families who've lost loved ones. Rip that yellow ribbon sticker off your eyes, read what's written, and stop trying to pick a fight.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:45 AM on December 23

I don't pick fights lbb, obviously you are prone to though. After seeing many of your holier than though postings, I should expect no less. My "yellow ribbon sticker" shall stay in place, thank you.

posted by stockman1021 at 09:00 AM on December 23

I wouldn't be surprised if it won a Pulitzer or at least made its way to Best Sportswriting of 2005. It has the three qualities that awards committees value over all others. 1) It is socially and culturally RELEVENT, while being intellectually infantile. 2) It is stifilingly SENTIMENTAL. It doesn't enlighten so much as push emotional buttons in the reader. 3) The writer has big floppy ears. It's a lock.

posted by dzot at 09:01 AM on December 23

Mitch Albom has been coasting waaayyyy too long on past accomplishments than what he is doing now, and this post is a perfect example. Pulitzer? For this? Also, any dedicated reader of Mitch, (I am one), should realize that he should stick with what he does best, sports. His attempts to go sentimental, (Tuesdays w/Morrie, 5 People, and columns like this one), show his weakness. And when he tries to discourse on geo-politcal, (which he occasionally does), he comes across as ignorant, (though not as mean), as a Coulture or O'Riley.

posted by RedStrike at 09:10 AM on December 23

Hoo-boy. I think we'll all just have to agree to disagree on this one. Mitch Albom makes my teeth hurt. Before I commented in this thread, I resolved to actually read the link. I had trouble getting past the first line. Beginning at the end is a literary trope I've seen once or twice before. To me/ in my opinion/ don't let this ruin your holidays, Mitch Albom is to cloying, sugary stories what Boston's Dan Shaughnessy is to car wrecks. The problem is that becomes a crutch. It becomes all you can write. And then writing those stories becomes too much work, so you start cherry-picking only the stories that write themselves. I only made it through the first to grafs; was anyone suprised the kid was dead? Tossing conceits and cliches at a topic until it rises no more shouldn't be Pulitzer-worthy. But then, Palmeiro won a Gold Glove. As an aside, I don't spell-check shit. 90% of my errors are either homonym issues or the result of a lazy Powerbook spacebar combined with this slippery, femmy lotion I have to put on my hands in the winter.

posted by yerfatma at 09:28 AM on December 23

And the poster opened the whole thing up for us arm-chair literary critics (wait a sec, either someone's shitting themselves or they have a much higher opinion of the achievements of literary critics than I would imagine-- isn't the basic qualification an interest?).

posted by yerfatma at 09:29 AM on December 23

I am sorry the guy died. That said, I thought I joined a sports discussion site not a literary/political discussion site. What does any of this have to do with playing sports in high school (which everyone did in a small town). This is a political statement and nothing more.

posted by skydivemom at 10:11 AM on December 23

Aside from the tragic death of this young man, which is unspeakable for his family, I find nothing in this piece even worthy of Pulitzer consideration. It conveys sentiment in a trite, overdone, been there done that style, quite an unneccessary burden placed upon the reader by a writer looking for an easier, softer way. Perhaps if Albom had found the courage to express an opinion, a stance, a conviction, one way or the other about the worthiness of the sacrifice of this young mans life in war, I could give this piece more consideration. Absent the courage of a conviction, This piece is deserving of a Pulitzer as much as Rumsfield is deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize. Hardly the stuff of a "Great Writer".

posted by skydivedad at 10:18 AM on December 23

Thanks, CC, I enjoyed the story.

posted by Desert Dog at 10:23 AM on December 23

Although I did shed a tear for this young man's family, I agree with just about everyone that this is nowhere near Pulitzer material. I do get very annoyed when, while reading a story, I have to consistently go back in time. If Mitch is unable to write an interesting piece in order of events, then stop writing. My 12 yo talks like that: and then I went to the store, o yeah, first I got into the car, o but did I tell you that when I got up this morning I cleaned my room. I am sure that we would have all guessed the outcome of the story before the end, but I would have preferred reading it from the beginning. Build up to the climatic ending, and then recap. PS I spell checked this time. I couldn't believe that I had errors.

posted by grabofsky74 at 11:27 AM on December 23

Grabofsky74, how do you get your 12 year old to clean his room?

posted by Desert Dog at 11:59 AM on December 23

Albom has been mailing it in for years. I think he has written a computer program that churns these columns out after he enters in a few salient details. He should have been canned for making up stuff in that Final Four column from last year.

posted by holden at 02:21 PM on December 23

A compact young man who stood 5-feet-9, with powerful legs and soft, deer-like eyes -- his fellow troops called him "Oomph" after the diminutive Willy Wonka characters -- Watson was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Isn't that "Oompah"? And this Albom offering moved me, but more in the bowel sense than the emotional one.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:15 PM on December 23

I guess some people are such idiots that any story which covers the death of a sympathetic person is automatically enshrined in a diamond-hard case, impervious to all criticism and that any criticism of the writing is an attack on the dead person.

posted by billsaysthis at 03:43 PM on December 23

You know...am I the only person who's about sick and tired of sportswriters feeling that it's perfectly okay to start every other sentence with a conjunction? Once upon a time, once in a great while, it was a good technique, because you could use it to create emphasis and control the rhythm of the piece. Clearly, however, Albom and others of his stripe feel that, gosh, that's just what sportswriting is supposed to be like.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 05:38 PM on December 23

Well obviously I disagree with much of what's been said. Personally I thought it was very touching. I know some find Albom to be a bit too heavy on emotion and even sentimentality, however to me sports and emotion are so intertwined that it's hard to see where one finishes and the other starts. I do, of course, apologize to all who thought it wasn't sports related enough and will endevour to do better when I post a link next time.

posted by commander cody at 12:56 AM on December 24

Hey, no worries, CC -- any thread you start that allows many of us to dump on Mitch will be warmly welcomed.

posted by wfrazerjr at 09:00 AM on December 24

LOL

posted by commander cody at 12:26 PM on December 24

And what, exactly, is so wrong with starting every sentence with a conjunction? Or would you rather Mitch stuck to more basic sentence forms, which given his level of literary sophistication would probably make more sense? But then we wouldn't have such noble Nobel fodder as Tuesdays With Morrie or The Five People You Meet In Heaven, both of which are such fast reads you could finish them during the same crap? His best work is on "The Sports Reporters," but that's because he has to boil his homilies down to twenty-second sentences, and also John Saunders & Jason Whitlock (& Bob Ryan, can't forget him) delight in smacking Mitch with the oh-come-off-it stick. It's actually kind of entertaining.

posted by chicobangs at 12:32 PM on December 24

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