Monday, April 03, 2006

Hostage story

The release last week of Christian Science Monitor freelance reporter Jill Carroll after 82 days as the captive of armed militants in Iraq was greeted with relief in most corners. Some of that relief faded quickly and shamelessly, no less so for being predictable, when armchair pundits rushed to analyze why Carroll did not unequivocally condemn her captors in a video she made when she apparently knew she would be released. The New York Times reported the "video had raised questions about whether Ms. Carroll was suffering from Stockholm syndrome...."

Click here for a brief recap of the sordid media episode; click here for Jill Carroll's statement about her captivity and release.

Could we please put a moratorium on the use of "Stockholm syndrome" by anyone who doesn't have psychological training and hasn't actually examined the hostage? Otherwise it makes me think of the moron newscaster in one of the Die Hard movies who does not even know which country Stockholm is in.

Anyway, enough of that messy nonfiction known as real life.

This blog is about books, not current events. I only mention the Carroll episode because it reminded me of one the finest novels published in our present young century: Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.

From Patchett's website:
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
Click here to read an excerpt of the novel and interview with the author.

--Marshal Zeringue