Testament in Turkey: The Kabob Story Structure

iraqbigh

Ben Sisario rocks the figurative kasbah in a New York Times article slotted for tomorrow’s paper. In an interesting and juicy article regarding the survival of the metal band Acrassicauda in Baghdad, Sisario utilizes the so-called kabob story structure to great effect.

Inside Reporting notes that a kabob story should start with an anecdote about a specific person and broaden into a general discussion before returning to the specific person again. Sisario’s article does precisely that. The article follows a fun and intriguing lead with the Acrassicauda’s hard luck story as a Western-style heavy metal band in Iraq and their expatriation to America. It then launches into a discussion of the meat of the story, still describing Acrassicauda’s story, but broadening the issue to general immigration and refuge issues. To conclude, the article ends with a Metallica-induced, burger king-eating episode in the life of the band. In fact, the story doesn’t follow the kabob structure to a tee, and has a bit of the chronological aspect of “the martini glass,” but Sisario combines them to nice effect. After all, “there’s no simple, droolproof, one-size-fits-all solution for organizing stories.”

The structure works well because it’s a story about real people with real problems. An inverted pyramid structure might have trivialized the metal band’s struggle, but this certainly doesn’t. It makes me love Acrassicauda, regardless of any particular taste for heavy metal. Sisario’s furthermore makes the structure work through casual transitions. He prefers to use phrases like “For these musicians” to transition to a more specific paragraph and “But” to work in contradiction with and add to a previous paragraph.

Overall, no complaints. As Acrassicauda might say: rock on.

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