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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Catching those 'everyday reflections'

“What interests me is trying to catch the reflection of the human being on the page. I'm interested in how ordinary people live their lives. – Tracy Kidder

John “Tracy” Kidder, who just turned 70, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer of nonfiction focusing on – as he says – the lives of “everyday people.”  He has explored a wide range of topics through his books, ranging from his award winner, The Soul of a New Machine  (about a breakthrough development of a computer) to House, a "biography" of a couple having their first house built, to Among Schoolchildren, reflecting on U.S. education through the lives of  20 children and their teacher.  His Old Friends was a poignant study of a pair of elderly men in a nursing home.

Considered a literary journalist because of the strong story line and 
personal voice in his writing, he wrote in a 1994 essay 
for The Atlantic that "In fiction, believability may have nothing to do with reality or even plausibility. It has everything to do with those things in nonfiction. I think that the nonfiction writer's fundamental job is to make what is true believable."

A native of New York City, Kidder served two years in Vietnam, but said that unlike other veterans who became writers he didn’t think that had much influence on him.  “I know that to write you have to have stories you want to tell,” he said.  “You just have to keep your mind alive, and you have to work hard.  Things were here before you and will be here after you're gone. The geographic features, especially, give you a sense of your own place in the world and in time.”

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