Its subject is the story and arrest of the Central Park Five, the African American youths arrested after an alleged “wilding” incident in which a jogger was raped and left for dead in the Park’s northeast corner.
It became significant in understanding how the press initially covered the event that the victim was white and affluent.
Her style is the journalism of deep narrative, sometimes catching in language what a camera might miss.
Over a long career she has been a writer for all seasons, once producing articles for magazines as diverse as .
“Sentimental Journeys” was included in “After Henry,” an essay collection in which she “captured the mood of America in these days of sullen tension and strife,” wrote our reviewer.
THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE: A Chronicle of a City Wilding by Sarah Burns This 2011 book was the first to reconsider the Central Park Five case after the men were exonerated and the authorities learned that the serial rapist Matias Reyes was responsible for the crime.Was there more to know in the suddenly still space? One day when I was talking on the telephone in the office I mindlessly turned the pages of the dictionary that he had always left open on the table by the desk.Why do we expect the deceased to appear in a doorway? Survivors look back and see omens, messages they missed. When I realized what I had done I was stricken: what word had he last looked up, and what had he been thinking? Or had the message been lost before I touched the dictionary? action rather than as a “tell.” Her gift has been to help a reader discover patterns revealed in the smallest moments.He was imprisoned for 11 years, released after a DNA test proved his innocence. In this 2009 book, the two write about their experiences and why law enforcement should be more skeptical of eyewitness testimony.Still on the essays shelf with another essay from After Henry, by Joan Didion.These six books illuminate what happened as well as the contentious issues at play, including racial biases, wrongful imprisonment and prosecutorial power.‘SENTIMENTAL JOURNEYS’ BY JOAN DIDIONThis 1991 essay, originally published in the New York Review of Books, is Didion’s meditation on the Central Park jogger case.Didion was ahead of her time in her skeptical consideration of the crime and in her discussion of the racial politics involved.Where others might find their minds emptied by the disappearance of their family, Didion recovers small moments that she now wants to notice.There’s a flood of impressions and fantasies that surface as she tries to fill out long days in her New York apartment.The method is evident in her preference for the word “sentimental.” With the term she means more than a simple nostalgia.Didion uses it to describe the American preferences for safer and less self-indicting accounts of our collective behavior.