Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Good Little Feature That Keeps On Giving, or: Not Faron Too Well

Have you ever read the M.C. Blackman short story "A Good Little Feature"? It isn't a particularly well-known work, or a particulary well-known author; I remember reading it in grade seven or eight for English class, but of course everybody's reading lists and class experiences are different.

If you've never read it, please feel free to read it here; it starts on page ten, so scroll down to it and have a look. (I have no idea why somebody put it on Google Docs as part of an ESL lesson, but for posterity's sake I'm glad it's there.) It's only a couple of pages long, and it was written in 1966, but I think it's still a meaningful piece that has some potentially valuable lessons for modern life.

The story is a cautionary tale about a newspaper writer who seizes on the meager good fortune of an uneducated, lower-class man in the hopes of turning it into a good human-interest piece. His subject, bewildered and upset by the sudden commotion around him, doesn't appreciate being the centre of attention and would seemingly prefer to be left to his own affairs. Nonetheless, and despite any concerns for his subject's safety, the writer puts the story into the paper -- and soon enough, when the subject of his writing is thrust into the spotlight, very bad things happen to him as a result even though the writer had claimed to help him out.

What made me remember this short story out of the blue after so many years, and why am I bringing it up now? Oh, well, no reason. Just making conversation, I suppose.

Hey, so! I hear Faron Hall is in the news again. Attacked again, huh? Man, that's rough. Good thing we have Gordon Sinclair around to write another column about him, and the entire city's collective news machines all keeping him in the headlines! That'll fix everything!

And did Sinclair write in that column just now that the whole situation reminds him of a story he'd read? Hey, go figure! Man, that's funny how that works.

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