Minor Miracles: Not So Miraculous

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Vogue‘s feature on mom-and-pop restaurants, “Minor Miracles,” is a somewhat less than outstanding piece of feature work. The story starts off with a lackadaisical and noncommittal first line, reading “I’ll bet there are more mom-and-pop restaurants in New York City than anywhere else in the country.” Great. 99% of readers agree that they could care less. This forgettable opener is followed by a lengthy definition of “mom and pop,” all the while getting side tracked by the political correctness of defining family so traditionally. I would thank the author for his kind consideration of all those non-heterosexual, non-married restaurant owners out there, except that the digression is entirely irrelevant to the story. In short, I lost interest long before the main point, which seems to be the financial struggles small restaurants face and the role that high rent plays.

The story meanders its way through vague musings on the “mom and pop” restaurant, only briefly mentioning the aforementioned point in the last couple of paragraphs. In order to be effective, the article should have focused in on the financial struggles of these restaurants, perhaps telling the story through one particular family or restaurant. There’s something to be said for inserting your own musings into a story, but the entirely non-focused and nonchalant nature of the article causes it to fall flat. My major piece of advice for the author? Leave stream-of-conscious narratives to Faulkner. There’s little place for them in journalism.

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