George Packer on Writing Long

April 20, 2009 | Baruch College, CUNY Lecture Series

Reflecting on his 20,000-word story on the Iraq war, New Yorker magazine staff writer George Packer says he considers himself fortunate to have an outlet for his epic reporting style: “I’m lucky that The New Yorker continues to want it.” Packer, whose work covering Iraq and West Africa has been recognized with three Overseas Press Club awards, is the spring semester’s Sidney Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College. “I use narrative in order to bring news of the world,” said Packer, who discussed his career and read form his articles “Betrayed” — which he turned into an award-winning play — and “The Ponzi State.” “Without the narrative, it’s very hard to make readers care about these obscure lives.”
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