Weakest thing about The Politics of Crazy

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of mary guercio mary guercio 3 weeks, 2 days ago.

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  • #1950
    Profile photo of Chris Ladd
    Chris Ladd
    Keymaster

    For those of you who read it, what did you like the least about the Politics of Crazy? Exploring the possibility of writing another book, likely on a subject not far removed from that one. Interested in your feedback.

  • #1974
    Profile photo of Ryan Ashfyre
    Ryan Ashfyre
    Moderator

    I wouldn’t exactly call it a weakness, but the entire book is one giant wall of text (a very interesting wall of text, to be sure, but a wall nevertheless). You used to post little pictures in your old GOPlifer posts all the time and for whatever reason, technical or otherwise, neither the book nor your posts here have had them. If it’s workable, I’d like to see them again; helps to give ’em a little more life, y’know?

    That aside, and more to the point, The Politics of Crazy is a book for intellectuals, speaking in mostly very broad terms about politics, the economy, etc, etc. If you’re looking to get across to more average people who don’t have quite the intellectual curiosity many here do, this is a poor attempt that reads like a lecture in far too many respects. Some personal accounts from real people to convey an honest, genuine story would do wonders, kind of like how you did when you spoke about that Trump voter, an African-American who voted for him not because of any misguided trust, but because there was a very clear desire to let white people know the same kind of helplessness and fear that so many had been feeling for decades and centuries. That kind of a story gets across crystal clear and really makes people think.

    Secondly, there’s a clear lack of dialogue here. As much as I agree with so much of what’s written, it feels like it’s preaching to the choir at times. Maybe this would work, maybe it wouldn’t, but something I would try would be along the lines of laying out your case on a given issue first, then present a written response from someone else, liberal or conservative, explaining why they disagree with you, and then you respond in kind. Nothing gets across to people better than an honest, heated argument that exposes your potential weaknesses and you holding your own. Show people your strength.

    That’s all for right now. I’ll re-read the book later and see if anything else comes to mind.

    • #1984
      Profile photo of Chris Ladd
      Chris Ladd
      Keymaster

      That’s interesting. Some of this has already entered the outline. I’m hearing that it needs more anecdote, perhaps more first person voice, breaking up the text with graphic content, and perhaps material from interviews (?).

      Also trying to conceive of something that could reach an airport reader. More digestible vocabulary. Less political science and economics. On the right track?

  • #1990
    Profile photo of Aaron Dow
    Aaron Dow
    Participant

    You might want to take some notes from Zinsser’s On Writing Well. I don’t recommend very many writing guidebooks, but this one is focused on non-fiction and journalistic writing, and takes you through meaningful examples of how to keep your writing simple to understand and concise without losing rhythm and style.

    I haven’t read The Politics of Crazy. It’s on my queue, but to be fair my queue is always rather long. But based off of your writing on this blog and Forbes, I feel like a lot depends on how you work with an editor; and I do recommend collaborating closely with a qualified, professional editor.

    Overall, your writing is fluid and readable, you only occasionally have grammatical errors and awkward sentence constructions that trip up the flow. But in terms of a larger scope, being able to organize and reduce redundancies can help you say a lot more with less, and typically simpler, words.

    A personal note: you’re good with hyperlinking and providing pictures, but a lot of the time I want the citations for your historical assertions. A lot of what you write about the history of the South and Dixiecrats is compelling and believable, but I simply don’t know where you get that information from.

  • #1993
    Profile photo of Chris Ladd
    Chris Ladd
    Keymaster

    Zinsser’s book arrives Monday. An editor will be helpful, but only so helpful. They can’t rewrite the book.

    The awkward passages and loops are something I’ve been hearing about since my days writing stuff for David Frum. He was pretty brutal about it. They are pretty deeply engrained habits and it’s been tough to shake loose from them. Even though I’m pretty conscious of it now, that stuff still works its way into most of the stuff I write.

    One of the revelations from all this blog work is how little anyone knows about the political history of the South, even (especially) in the South. Unless you were there, or devoted academic work to the subject, it seems like its is a blank space in the public mind. I think part of the problem is that so much of that history was fairly deliberately suppressed or obfuscated to avoid embarrassment. The other issue is the simple fact that we don’t pay much attention to local politics. I’ve found it very difficult to get good histories/interpretations of politics in the Chicago area. People either know it from living it or it just disappears.

    • #1998
      Profile photo of mary guercio
      mary guercio
      Moderator

      You don’t know how much you know and don’t know about the south even if you “lived” it. I can relate intimately with your pieces on the south – understand them but didn’t directly experience much of the politics you describe. It was simply all around us and so we didn’t see or hear it clearly. My favorite pieces of yours are those you have done on the south. You put a lot of heart and soul into these.

      I will need to re-read Politics of Crazy to offer constructive suggestions. But, if you could inflect the warmth of your pieces on the South into your political examples, I think it would be helpful. Another possibility is to draw more upon your direct experience within the Republican Party and some of the personalities you mixed with. (without getting sued, that is)

      Most of us who read and post on your blog are intensely interested in the “weeds” of politics. OUr framework of understanding is a bit deeper than most – which is the broader audience you would target with an airport tome.

      I’m such a fan it’s hard for me to be critical. I support Ryan’s suggestion about slipping in pictures, visuals. One thing you might consider is being careful not to repeat arguments made in another chapter. Circling around can make one wonder if they missed something in the earlier read.

    • #1999
      Profile photo of mary guercio
      mary guercio
      Moderator

      One more point: my experience within the LA political process is mostly recalled through the personalities with whom I interacted…plus the experiences of working within the system, but it was instructive to help me better understand political dynamics writ large while not losing sight of the little things that make politics so interesting and crazy.

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