The long-form of Hector Camacho’s vida macho

Wednesday, 29 May, 2013

Those who despair for the future of journalism point to BuzzFeed listicles such as “14 Cats Who Think They’re Sushi“. This is the bottom of the barrel, right? But before we rush to judgment, it should be noted that the same BuzzFeed recently launched a long-form journalism section, which features some excellent writing, such as Amanda Petrusich’s account of a python hunt in Florida. And it’s not just the new players who are making use of digital devices, especially tablets, to present in-depth reportage. The Sydney Morning Herald has started a new section, Immerse, that highlights long-form writing published over the last 181 years.

Regardless of the format, good storytelling will always find an audience. But the storytellers still need to know their trade and the importance of beginning, middle and end: “Hector Luis Camacho was born to be a boxer, which is another way of saying he suffered. But Macho was also born to entertain, to turn suffering into a cross between ‘Benny Hill’ and ‘Sábado Gigante’ on Univision.” That’s from “Hector Camacho’s Vida Macho” by Paul Solotaroff from the April issue of Men’s Journal. The writing is superb: “Early in the 1990s, as his courage eroded and his taste for cocaine deepened, Macho became less a serious fighter than a burlesque hoofer who boxed. His ringwear, always a little outré (side-slit trunks showing lots of leg, head scarves cribbed from Carmen Miranda), turned bawdy and strange and not the least bit unusual at, say, a gay-pride parade on Folsom Street.” The story is almost too tragic to be told, but the writing is compelling and the reader is rewarded with a beginning, middle and end that are not easily forgotten.

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