A sharp, intelligent novel about “old” journalism, “new” journalism and the moral gap between the two.
Pulitzer prize–winning journalist Honor Tait is 80 years old, and some of her vintage pieces of reporting are being re-released in book form. She has had a distinguished career and won the Pulitzer for her reporting from Buchenwald in April of 1945. But 1997, the year in which the novel is set, discloses a different type of reporting when Tamara Sim is asked to do an interview of the crusty, reclusive and highly intelligent older woman for S*nday, a journal whose clientele is more interested in scandal than in truth or integrity. Tait has indeed had something of a lurid life, one that would be sure to titillate S*nday readers, for she’s had three husbands, countless lovers and is rumored—even at the age of 80—to pay for sex with younger men. Tamara’s initial interview goes badly because she feels Tait’s contempt for what she’s doing, but Tamara keeps pursuing the story, for she wants to dig deeper into the scandalous doings Tait has told her about—a love affair with Bing Crosby, for example, cocaine use and wild Hollywood parties. Tamara hopes her reporting will make her reputation and elevate her status from her previous position on Psst! magazine, but it becomes clear that Tait has been stringing Tamara along until truth has gotten swallowed in speculation. And although Tait has not published her journalistic writing for decades, she’s still working on one more memory from her Buchenwald experience that she’s repressed for over 50 years.
McAfee writes with sparkling intelligence and raises serious issues about the relationship between reporting and truth.