Two New Pieces: Concussions and Literary Battles

Yesterday I had two new pieces come out at the LA Weekly and Pacific Standard Magazine.  The piece for the LA Weekly was a part of the tournament for the greatest LA novel ever, and I read and officiated the fight between True Confessions by John Gregory Dunne and L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy.  Both are great books, but to me, L.A Confidential is a masterpiece.

When I was taking Lynne Barrett’s plot class at FIU — one of the best and most challenging classes I have ever taken — she made us read Aristotle’s Poetics.  While I disagreed with some of Aristotle’s statements, specifically that lower-class characters can’t make interesting main characters, it proved to be one of the most important books I have ever read.  The main lesson I took from that book was that great plots have a recognition and a reversal.  The reversal brings about the drama — that the status quo changes and characters fall and rise in “power.”  Well, L.A. Confidential, in my opinion, does what great Greek and English and American dramas accomplish — high drama, incredible reversals.  The change in the status quo from the beginning of the book to the end — the people who die, the sacrifices, the changes in character and their relationships to one another — is nothing short but stunning.  It has become one of my favorite books of all time.  Check out my piece: Best LA Novel Ever.

The other piece that I had come out was on brain injuries in football.  I started writing the piece back in September, and it finally came out in December.  I have a lot more information that I want to use on the piece, but it serves its purpose: examining the public relations of brain injury.  The focus seems to be on youth football and the NFL wants to control that image of safety at the grass roots level.  It’s complicated, because even though they are trying to protect their brand, the organization, USA Football, actually seems to be trying to change the game.  Check out this piece at Pacific Standard — Public Relations of Brain Injury — or at Salon — Will Concussions Kill Football.

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