Los Angeles journalist Steve Oney was consumed for nearly half his life by bringing "And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank" into print. More recently, he has been the chief consultant for The People v. Leo Frank, a 2009 PBS documentary inspired by his book. Now it's time to send away boxes of research materials to the Georgia Historical Society. And letting go isn't easy, Oney writes today at the L.A. Times website.
This is a tedious task, but what makes it more than simply time consuming is that every item conjures intense memories. There go a half-dozen file folders containing notes from tearful conversations with the children of the men who lynched Frank. A bundle of original letters and legal documents recalls its generous source: the now-dead son of a lawyer involved in the case....
Taken together, these materials might well serve as the basis for an exhibit on a kind of research no one in their right mind will ever again conduct. Working without scanners or flash drives, I relied on anachronistic devices and a willingness to camp out in archives for weeks.
Nice piece on the reporting life. Oney will discuss the PBS documentary with filmmaker Ben Loeterman after a Jan. 31 screening at American Jewish University.
Also in today's LAT: The paper reviews Beijing bureau chief Barbara Demick's book based on her former posting, "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea."
In the NYT: Former Gawker and Los Angeles Times blogger-reporter Richard Rushfield's new book, "Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost: A Memoir of Hampshire College in the Twilight of the 80’s," is an editors' choice in today's New York Times. They blurb it this way: "A Los Angeles kid cast among an ultra-free-spirited East Coast hippie majority."