I feel compelled to comment on Lezlie Lowe’s recent article, “Chasing Amy.” The writing, at turns soporific, at others infuriating, exhausted me so completely I felt afterward as if I should confine myself to bed. I will mention at the outset that Amy’s life, and the fateful barrage of obstacles she faced, deserve avowal; and the devotion Amy shared with those close to her—in defiance of those obstacles—serves as a fine lesson to us all, no matter our predicaments.
But Lezlie Lowe’s writing was atrocious, and served her intentions miserably. “The ambulance arrived,” writes Lowe. “Wee-woo-wee-woo-wee-woo.” Presumably, this is a reminder for those of us who’ve forgotten the sound such a vehicle makes.
This present context, however, is clearly not the forum in which to list the abundant examples of Lowe’s shapeless and overwrought sentences. I admit I feel at odds writing this letter, as the incongruity between the tenderness of Lowe’s subject and my own exasperation with the writing is exceedingly obvious, and many will claim I’ve missed the point entirely. But in a newspaper, indeed in any publication, good writing is always at least partially the point. This was a serious story, one deserving of telling, and it should have been told with more attention. It is not necessary, every time one wishes to convey seriousness or sincerity, to abbreviate a sentence or turn sentiment into fragment. It is often more than enough to let the details speak for themselves. The writer needn’t always toss in a period. To foster solemnity. To effect gravity. To show weight and muscle. “Like a beefsteak.”
Reading Lowe’s article forced me to consider that I might have it all wrong, that clichés might in fact be metal, a rare printed gold. It’s a shame that at the hands of Lowe, we the readers were left having to mine the valuable life of Amy Collins—by separating the mud of language that obscured it.
By B. McLenithan