Monday, June 07, 2010

Random Pixels recognizes...

...Elinor Brecher of the Miami Herald.

Ellie - as her friends call her - knows where the bodies are buried.

She writes obituaries for the Herald....those newspaper stories that sum up the life of the recently departed in 600 or 700 words. Stories that usually end up running on page 6B if the person was marginally famous. Or a longer story that runs on the front page if the person was someone famous... or infamous.

The only problem with obits is that the person they're written about never gets to read them. Pity.

Ellie's very good at writing obits. It's a process that usually involves looking through old newspaper clippings about the deceased. Clippings that are kept in what used to be called - appropriately - "the morgue," the place where old newspaper stories go to die. Ellie digs them up and gives them a second chance.

Then she gets on the phone and calls friends of the deceased and listens for a quote or two, that when put together with other quotes, will paint a word picture of her subject.

Ellie is usually able to sum up a life in the first paragraph...or "lede" in newspaper-speak.

Consider this simple but beautiful lede from Ellie's piece in Sunday's Herald on the life of "Baron" Sepy Dobronyi, a true Coconut Grove character, who died May 29.
The party's over: Sepy is dead.
Any recounting of his history must carry a disclaimer: The only person who could separate fact from fiction in his colorful life died of liver cancer just after midnight May 29 at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach.
Ellie masterfully sifted through the Baron's 88 years, and in the process put together an exquiste and elegant retelling of the life of a man who had lived through "African safaris, New Guinea tribal-war wounds, Swedish marriages, and Mexican divorces."

Ellie's story ran to almost 2,000 words and took up a good part of page 1B and all of an inside page.

If you missed the story, do yourself a favor and click here.

And if you're an animal lover, be sure to check out Ellie's blog: Crazy for Critters.

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