My Thoughts on “The Journalist and the Murderer” by Janet Malcolm

In The Journalist and the Murderer, author Janet Malcolm covers the story of a case between a journalist, McGinniss, and a murderer, MacDonald. McGinniss befriends MacDonald, gains his trust, then betrays MacDonald by publishing the book Fatal Vision which exposed MacDonald as guilty of murdering his pregnant wife and their two children.

In Malcolm’s book, she is very critical of journalists during the era of New Journalism. As an author, I view her as more of a hypocrite because some of her opinions are actions she voluntarily acts on herself. For example, this is a quote from her book, presented in first-person: “The rare, succulent crabmeat, picked out of the shell, packed, sealed, refrigerated, jealously hoarded, is like the fragile essence of a person’s being, which the journalist makes away with and turns into some horrid mess of his own while the subject speaks” (p. 14). Here, she is explaining the delicacy of a journalist’s subject by comparing it to the delicate crab meat. Then, she explains how a journalist manipulates his subject and makes him look worse than he actually is. I say this is hypocritical because Malcolm makes more of a horrid mess in her own work. Within her book, she is selling author McGinniss out by critiquing his untrustworthiness that he presented to his subject, MacDonald. I do not like that Malcolm is writing a book about another book. This book appears to be one long critique of McGinniss’ book, also known as “Metajournalism” rather than investigative journalism (which was usually seen during the New Journalism era). Malcolm’s work is not investigative compared to other authors during the New Journalism era such as Capote, rather, I think it presents itself as “gossip” (“A Life in Writing: Janet Malcolm by The Guardian).

If Malcolm is always “getting the story” (“A Life in Writing: Janet Malcom” by The Guardian), then I believe that she is a narcissist herself. In this book, she presents MacDonald as a “pathological narcissist,” but I think she does this because she can relate to narcissism. She is so consumed with McGinniss’ motives in this book that her desires become selfish, and therefore narcissistic. She openly inserts her views on MacDonald’s status as a murderer. She says that she agrees with the public defense attorney, Bostwick, that MacDonald is innocent. She actually does not agree with McGinniss at all (p. 95). She then goes on to explain that McGinniss made MacDonald into a boring character because he did not add any literary context to MacDonald’s character as Truman Capote added texture to Perry Smith, another murderer.

Malcolm explains nonfiction as if it is the worst thing to write about because of its limits. This is because as McGinniss was writing about MacDonald, he had to stick to his limits that MacDonald gave him to work with. She explains how MacDonald cannot be compared to any other literary character because he is that boring. She references how in In Cold Blood, Perry Smith would be a typical, boring loser if Truman Capote had not made him into something. She compares McGinniss’ work to Capote’s work and is saying that McGinniss could have really made MacDonald into something, had he tried. This brings a question to mind… if Malcolm explains nonfiction as the worst thing to write about because of its limits, then why does she go on to write this book about a nonfiction case between a journalist and murder? This is where I find Malcolm’s selfish motives to be apparent. In this book, I find her main point-of-view to point out gossip and sell out another journalist’s work.

In the beginning of Malcolm’s book, she quotes: “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.” This quote is pointed out in The New York Times’ article “Was Trust Betrayed?”, which I agree with the fact that this quote that Malcolm writes is pinpointed toward McGinniss, because she finds it wrong that he betrayed his subject MacDonald. This is another reason I find Malcolm to be hypocritical because she is selling out McGinniss, just as McGinniss sold out MacDonald.

Another component to Malcolm’s writing in this book that I do not agree with is her references, also known as allusions, to other nonfiction books. A similarity to Didion’s essay collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem is her use of California as a way to escape to freedom. She explained how MacDonald moved to California with no remorse after losing his wife and children, as if to start life with a clean slate. This goes against Didion’s traditional wishes of what California should be. I see this as Malcolm’s opportunity to betray another journalist’s wishes, just as she has done with McGinniss’ views. And as we know, Didion has made it clear that journalists sell each other out all of the time, which is exactly what Malcolm is doing in her book. Another example in Malcolm’s work is Dr. MacDonald’s use of the diet pill Eskatrol, which induces psychosis. I see this as a parallel to the LSD used in Didion’s book, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, or Tom Wolfe’s book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

I disagree with The New York Times’ article that “her critique, no matter if exaggerated, should force all of us in the news business to re-examine our methods and manners” because Malcolm has no place to critique another journalist, because she is also one herself. Had she been the editor of McGinniss’ book, then I would say she has a place to critique his morality with his subject.

Because Malcolm not only critiques McGinniss, but also Truman Capote and other authors within this one book, I do not agree with her purpose as a journalist. As a journalist, she should report on things her subjects need to know rather than being hypocritical of things other journalists do, that she also does herself.

 

Edinburgh, Scotland

A medieval town with the addition of a new town, Edinburgh is the perfect city to visit for a weekend.

If you decide to go during springtime, be sure to bundle up. I spent the first weekend of March here, and I arrived to a thick layer of snow and saw more snow fall during my three days there.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

Patagonia Parka: If there’s anything I’ve learned about being cold, I feel best when my backside and bottom has some extra length to it! This parka is from last season, but I linked a similar one. The one linked has a hood with it, which I wish mine had!

J. Crew Jeans: I love these jeans because they’re thicker than your usual denim and keep you warm. They stay right in place, too! I’m 5’4″ and they hit at the perfect place on my ankles.

Boots: These are a classic pair of light brown, heeled boots that I have on in this photo that did keep me warm, but were NOT hiking-friendly for Arthur’s Seat (I’ll talk about this later).

Boots I DO suggest for snowy Edinburgh: I have these boots in the color “sand,” and they are insulated with sheep’s fur on the inside, keeping your feet SUPER warm without the need for thick socks. MAN, do I wish I would have had these packed with me! These have laces so you can loosen and tighten them as needed, which is nice if you need to tuck your pants into the boots. Also, the tracking on the bottom is excellent to keep you trekking through slick and snowy areas.

Beanie: I just have on the classic CC beanie, with a detachable pom on top. A layer around your ears is necessary to keep you from completely going crazy in the cold!

Friday, March 2:

After settling into our hostel, we set out to explore Arthur’s Seat. This is a beautiful set of hills located in the “Old Town” of Edinburgh.

And this is why I mentioned earlier that I made a mistake with the boots I was wearing- they were NOT hiking material. I tried to hike as far as I could, but let’s just say I didn’t exactly make it to the top.

Partially up the largest hill – Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

If you visit Edinburgh, don’t make the same mistake I did by packing the wrong shoes. Make sure you pack hiking shoes so you can make it to the top and experience the full outlook over the city! Partially up the hill will still give you a beautiful view, anyway.

If you’re able to visit when there’s snow around, I highly suggest gathering your family and friends and taking a few sledding boards. I saw so many families out pushing each other around and it looked like so much fun!

I also suggest taking a snack and possibly a hot drink with you. I stopped at a little cafe, Holyrood Coffee Shop, which was between our hostel and Arthur’s Seat.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

I got a hot, fruit tea with a mixed berry scone. I loved this little place so much that I did go twice during my short stay!

Mixed Berry Scone & Hot Fruit Tea

After finishing our hike, my friends and I decided to do a little shopping to warm-up. We found the cutest vintage shop called W. Armstrong & Son. There are three locations in Edinburgh, and we made it to two of the three. I was so impressed with this shop because of the organization. They had a section of sweaters, blue jean jackets, leather jackets, kilts (of course), even wedding dresses and much more!

For dinner, we ate at The Last Drop. At this point, we were all so cold that we wanted to stay right around our hostel. I highly recommend staying at Budget Backpackers in Edinburgh because of the great location and great price (per person per night ranges anywhere from €9-€14).

The Last Drop has such a neat history behind it- it’s all about a young girl named Maggie who was on trial, hung, and then survived for 40 years after the hanging. The waiters here were very friendly and the restaurant provided a great atmosphere.

I had a lentil cottage pie, which was a lentil and vegetable pie topped with sweet potato and carrot mash, served with a side salad.

Side note: I’m not really sure why it was called a “cottage pie” because there definitely wasn’t cottage cheese in it- in case you were worried/grossed out!

Also, The Last Drop has GREAT cappuccinos!

After dinner, we ventured out to find some dessert, and ended up at Vittoria Restaurant.

I had the sticky toffee pudding, which was topped with hot toffee sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was excellent!

Sticky Toffee Pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with a waffle crisp

Saturday, March 3:

To start the day, we began with breakfast at the Filling Station. I had french toast with fresh berries on top and a berry compote sauce. I also had a hazelnut latte (I’ve been deprived of hazelnut and french vanilla creamer while in Italy)- it was so yummy and a taste of home.

Filling Station French Toast with fresh berries & a berry compote sauce

Next, we took a Sandeman’s Tour of “The Royal Mile.”

If you’re in Europe and are looking for affordable tours, I highly suggest these tours.

The way it works: they are technically “free,” but at the end, you tip your tour guide whatever you found the tour to be worth. These tours are typically anywhere from 2-4 hours, and you can easily spot them at the meeting location with their red umbrellas.

P.S.- I stopped at a Starbucks before the tour to have something hot while I was walking through the cold. I had a matcha tea latte (and added a bit of sugar). I highly recommend trying it! It’s a nice switch up (and healthy too).

While on our tour, we stopped at the Grassmarket Centre. Ironically, this was right across from our hostel.

At the cafe, I had a chai masala tea and a raisin scone.

Grassmarket Centre- Scone with raisins

Lunch: Olly Bongo’s. This was a cute, small restaurant with lots of different options. I had a baked potato with chili, a side salad, and cole slaw.

I also needed an afternoon pick-me-up, so I had a cappuccino there as well.

Cappuccino at Olly Bongo’s

After lunch, we visited the Scottish National Gallery. Bonus: free entrance!

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I visited a catfe while I was there. I’ve been missing some animal time! We went to Maison de Moggy and it was a nice way to stay warm.

Cost: £8 for one hour. While you’re there, you can order dessert and coffee.

Sunday, March 4:

I went back to Holyrood Cafe for breakfast, and had a cappuccino and a blueberry muffin.

Hollyrood Cappuccino
Hollyrood Blueberry Muffin

After that, I did some souvenir shopping throughout The Royal Mile.

For lunch, we went to The Elephant Room, which is where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration to write the Harry Potter series.

I wrote my post cards here and enjoyed a flat white and a chicken pot pie with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Chicken Pot Pie with brown gravy & mashed potatoes
Writing post cards at The Elephant Room

This is a place I HIGHLY suggest eating if you go to Edinburgh!

Thanks for reading along with my travels,

-Rach

February Picks

During the month of February, a few things really stood out to me and I’m sharing them down below.

With spring coming around, you’ll be sure to have the cutest shoes if you check out the ones I’ve linked! Also, hair health is something I’ve always really enjoyed focusing on. I’ve linked some hair vitamins to help your hair have the perfect shine after a harsh, dry winter that usually results in dull hair.

*1) Hair Vitamins

*2) Smith & Cult Nail Polish – How cute is this color for transitioning into spring?

*3) See by Chloe Spring Purse

*4) Sam Edelman Platform Espadrilles

*5) Steve Madden Cheetah Slip-On

*6) Tory Burch Sandals

*7) Anthropologie Throw Blanket – I love this throw. It can be placed in so many areas around your home. It’s the perfect neutral with a fun flare.

-Rach

Athleta Athleisure

Boy do I have good news for you!!!

My favorite top and leggings from Athleta are BOTH on sale!

Running along the Tiber river in Rome, Italy

Reasons I love this top:

(1) It keeps you warm, but it breathes well and doesn’t get too hot on you.

(2) It’s a TURTLENECK!!

(3) It has the cute pockets on the end of the sleeves for your thumbs to go through.

(4) I tuck it into a denim or black pair of skinnies and it still looks so cute!

Reasons I love the leggings:

(1) They stay right in place during my workouts.

(2) They have a snake print that’s not too obvious, but is the perfect amount of detail!

Shop the top and leggings here:

Top | Leggings

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Whether you’re looking for a special someone, for you girls to celebrate Galentine’s, or to treat yourself, I’ve included six of my favorite things that would be perfect for this holiday!

All of these can be found at https://shop.nordstrom.com/.

(1) Gold Mantra Band: I’ve been loving mantra bands lately – this brand has so many more cute mantras!

(2) “I’m Stuck on You” Cactus Pillow: How cute is this pillow?

(3) Sam Edelman PJ Set: These cute PJs would be perfect for Valentine’s Day – eye mask included!

(4) Rose Delight Candle: You can’t ever go wrong with a Diptyque candle, and this one is rose flavored!

(5) Red Velvet Mules: They’re red velvet and they’re mules, it doesn’t get any cuter than that!

(6) Silk Pillowcase: How many times have we heard it’s bad for your hair and skin to sleep on cotton? Too many times. This silk pillowcase is a total beauty hack and absolutely adorable!

Seaside Linen Pant

Tonight I’m sharing my favorite pants – better yet? They are comfy, light-weight, and oh-so-cute!!

I have these olive green seaside pants (available in three other colors) paired with an easy scoopneck tank. The one I’m wearing is no longer available, but the same style is available in eight different colors (YAY)!

Because I was out and about in the sand, I wore my go-to Birkenstocks. I am wearing the “Mayari” style in silver.

Lastly, my nail polish is “Bikini So Teeny” by Essie. I thought it was very fitting for the beach. 😉

Thanks for reading what’s “All the Rach”!

XOXO,

Rachel

Back in Action

Two of the most horrifying words to hear? Swimsuit shopping. The thought of this makes everyone cringe as we tell ourselves we will just eat one more Girl Scout cookie, then the next thing we know we’re opening the next box. I have to be in a swimsuit next week?

Good news for you, I LOVED seeing how many cute one-piece swimsuits college girls were sporting over spring break. After all, modest is still hottest.

On another note, I was trying on swimsuits in Target when this little black one happened to just be hanging there, so I decided to give it a try. Needless to say, it went home with me.

IMG_2473IMG_2451Shop the details here: Black One Piece

Spring Break Awaits Us

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about spring break. Every corner I turn, there seems to be something there haunting me that reminds me that it is so close, but so far away. Here I’ve added my three favorite things that should help you out with feeling like spring is really here (even if the weather doesn’t permit it).

  1. The first thing is a little something to help you cheat without causing sun damage. I use this every night in the shower and it takes very little time (only three minutes!!!) After you wash and rinse, apply this evenly and you only need a thin layer. You can really make this bottle last a long time if you use it sparingly! You will notice some natural glow by your second time! In-Shower Tanning Lotion
  2. This is my favorite lip color! Something about it makes your eyes pop, and I can honestly say it lasts awhile and gives you a good amount of moisture! My favorite shade is called “sorbet” Pink Lips
  3. I love this top and I think it would make for the most precious beach pictures! It would be so cute with some khaki shorts or even a skirt. Beach Top

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Blackbird Sweater

IMG_0020This shoot was seriously so much because I absolutely loved this blue wall!

Okay on to the real deal: This sweater is so lightweight and girly in all of the best ways. It’s short waisted so more power to pairing it with the best ever high waisted jeans and a good round toe bootie, or even tucked into a fun skirt with some over the knee boots. Caution: this sweater will make you feel like your floating on air! 😉

Find it here: Black Bird Sweater