This post is a response to “Back to the Land,” an article that appeared in Orion Magazine
Chelsea Bandalillo takes the readers on a brief tour of the Texas State Forensic Anthropology Research Facility, where forensic anthropologists research the decomposition process of cadavers, hoping to learn gems of information that will help them investigate crime scenes. Though I cannot place a specific reason for the thought, I thought she was uncomfortable with the subject matter. Despite the assertion that she tries but cannot see the remains as human, she tours the facility with “eyes open and mouth mostly closed.”
In our time-challenged, compressed world, the short form gives readers a snapshot view. Perhaps she chose the short form for that reason, or perhaps she sensed potential discomfort for readers and chose the short form so that they would read through the text without putting it down.
The subject matter provides rich ground for a more in-depth treatment. Though I have not toured the Texas facility or the similar one operated by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, I have taken the virtual tour of the Knoxville facility http://www.jeffersonbass.com/tour-the.... Dr. William Bass oversees the Knoxville “body farm” and teamed up with writer Jon Jefferson to produce ten volumes of mysteries known as the “Body Farm Series” under the pen name Jefferson Bass.
Fans of the Jefferson Bass series or the successful television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, with its multiple spin-offs, would probably enjoy Bandilillo’s article more than literary readers. They might even read a more in-depth article. Though Bandiillo cannot bring herself to say the word cadaver about the bodies which attract them, the paragraph on butterflies at the end is a nice touch. I would enjoy seeing the butterflies.
Written as an assignment for an online course on writing nonfiction.