By Ann Beattie
Picturing Will, the generally acclaimed new novel via Ann Beattie, unravels the complexities of a postmodern kin. There's Will, a curious five-year-old who listens to the pulse of a plant via his toy stethoscope; Jody, his mom, a photographer poised at the threshold of big name; Mel, Jody's ideal -- possibly too excellent -- lover; and Wayne, the really who left Will unexpectedly and now sees his rare visits as a crimp in his bedhopping. Beattie exhibits us how those lives intersect, allure, and repel each other with incredible shifts and moments of heartbreaking directness.
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Extra info for Picturing Will
We have learned not to believe our news organizations, because we finally have the ability to watch something we were never meant to see: actual events as they're really happening, side by side with the spin the news organizations put on them. Never before has the American public had the opportunity to watch and read the reports of the establishment news media at the very hour that the events themselves were unfolding in front of them live on television. Their collective understanding of the dissonance between the two is breeding a distrust of the major news organs-the broadcast networks and the major newspapersthat will probably long outlast the war.
Then we all looked up from our morning paper to see television correspondents actually embedded with our troops, reporting quick advances, one-sided firefights, melting opposition, and, finally, welcoming crowds. Then the television would cut back to the anchors and military analysts far from the battlefield. There, with their pointers and maps, we heard all about how we had too few troops in Iraq, and how the war plan had misfired, and how Bush's failure to enlist Turkish cooperation was likely to prove disastrous.
In September and early October, the Times pressed Bush to submit his case for invading Iraq, first to Congress and then to the United Nations. Hoping to slow down what the paper saw as the administration's rush to war, the newspaper claimed that its surveys showed that Americans shared its point of view. Ignoring the evident widespread support for the Bush position, it chipped away through loaded questions to try to build a case against immediate American action. Its surveys, and the way they were reported in the newspaper, exerted a great influence on opinion leaders, rallying top Democrats to an antiwar stand.
Picturing Will by Ann Beattie