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Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction

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Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy's cult classic, WisconsinDeathTrip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictiona Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy's cult classic, WisconsinDeathTrip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictional versions, creating a hybrid text complete with facts, lies, and a wide range of blurring in between. Charles Van Schaick's macabre, staged photographs from the era appear alongside the dispatches, further complicating the messiness of history and the limits of truth.


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Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy's cult classic, WisconsinDeathTrip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictiona Disturbed by stories of drownings in the river behind his home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, writer B. J. Hollars combed the archives of local newspapers only to discover vast discrepancies in articles about the deaths. In homage to Michael Lesy's cult classic, WisconsinDeathTrip, Hollars pairs reports from late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century journalists with fictional versions, creating a hybrid text complete with facts, lies, and a wide range of blurring in between. Charles Van Schaick's macabre, staged photographs from the era appear alongside the dispatches, further complicating the messiness of history and the limits of truth.

34 review for Dispatches from the Drownings: Reporting the Fiction of Nonfiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jen Hirt

    Five stars for the concept of this clever book, but four stars for the actual readability. Although each report is a delight, and the pairings with the photos ranges from the humorous to the surreal to the upsetting (three ingredients I usually love), I still had a hard time really getting into this book. Part of my problem was that as soon as I started to get in to a narrative, I started to wonder if it was one of the true stories or one of the fake stories, and then I read it like a prosecutor Five stars for the concept of this clever book, but four stars for the actual readability. Although each report is a delight, and the pairings with the photos ranges from the humorous to the surreal to the upsetting (three ingredients I usually love), I still had a hard time really getting into this book. Part of my problem was that as soon as I started to get in to a narrative, I started to wonder if it was one of the true stories or one of the fake stories, and then I read it like a prosecutor or detective, not a reader. I think Hollars wanted this to happen, and while I thought I might like that mental tension, turns out it just wore me down. I also kept wanting to set this aside and just go reread Wisconsin Death Trip, which this book pays homage too, and which is one of the few books I have taken with me no matter where I have lived in the last 20 years. Still, overall, a noteworthy book that is worth knowing about, and I think Hollars has cool work ahead of him.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kamilah

    It's amazing really. Account after account of drownings, and it's kinda depressing when all these drownings in the river are thrown at you page after page after page. I couldn't tell you which entry is my favorite because they began to blur together, men drowning, women drowning, children (boy and girls) drowning, teens drowning, stories being told over and over again and you don't remember the names. I think that was Hollars' point in writing this. He started out saying he wanted to blur the li It's amazing really. Account after account of drownings, and it's kinda depressing when all these drownings in the river are thrown at you page after page after page. I couldn't tell you which entry is my favorite because they began to blur together, men drowning, women drowning, children (boy and girls) drowning, teens drowning, stories being told over and over again and you don't remember the names. I think that was Hollars' point in writing this. He started out saying he wanted to blur the lines of fact and fiction, and I think he successfully did this. By the end, after we read so many entries, you just don't know which ones are true and which aren't. It's kinda genius, actually.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    Spoon River Anthology was much the better book. This one aspires to the same and fails.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy Ambelang

  7. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

  9. 4 out of 5

    LK

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  11. 5 out of 5

    Heather Ann

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Ferguson

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  14. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meghan O'Dea

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maya

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tricia

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Laben

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katy Haas

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elissa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jerrod

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence Lenhart

  26. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carrie Butler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Roney

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

  31. 5 out of 5

    Elzbieta

  32. 5 out of 5

    Cathryn Cofell

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  34. 4 out of 5

    Abby

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