The Heart Is an Instrument

Portraits in Journalism

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From the foreword by Geneva Overholser.

What is it about really fine writers, how they delight, intrigue, compel us?

Style, you say. But style is not something you begin with. Rather, it's what you end up with, a result of far more fundamental traits. Traits such as an ear and an eye and a heart, traits that Madeliene Blais has honed superbly well.

This is a book well named: The Heart Is an Instrument: Portraits in Journalism. The heart is surely first among Blais's gifts. Whether she is writing about the famous--playwright tennessee Williams, novelist Mary Gordon--or about the least elevated among us--a teenage prostitute infected with the AIDS virus, a homeless schizophrenic--she brings to her subjects an incomparable empathy.

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