“Your Prayers Can Save the World’s Fattest Cat!”
Genius. In only eight words, this tabloid headline covers the crucial topics of religion, fat, and cats. From the first word, “your,” the reader knows she is the true topic. She has power: she can solve the most serious version of a particular world problem (the problem happens to be feline obesity, but that is a real problem, as many cat owners know). Indeed, she is a savior. And what’s more, there is a way to lose weight (having others pray) that is easier than eating less and exercising more. The only possible improvement I can imagine–and I’m not certain it is an improvement, in part because it is three letters longer–is “Your prayers can save the world’s fattest kitten.”
The headline, which I noticed last night in the grocery-store checkout line, reminded me of a passage from Sarah Schulman’s novel Girls, Visions and Everything. The main character, Lila, writes fiction:
The very first things Lila had ever written were for the local Supermarket News. That was great practice. There was an event, say, the price of grapefruits. There was an audience. Her job was to describe the event….There was no looking around for subject matter, only for description, a task she took very seriously. Did prices plummet, or were they slashed?
Some lawyers and law professors might model their writing on Cardozo or Holmes or even Scalia, but I’ll bring that anonymous headline writer and Lila along for the ride as well.