Over the last two weeks I’ve talked about Susan Boyle more than any other popular culture event in a long, long time. I’ve been discussing it at such length because the whole phenom is so layered—emotionally complex, endlessly arguable, and unabashedly wonderful.

I wasn’t the only one captivated by her performance and the global response to it. The video of her coming out song on Britain’s Got Talent has been viraled all over the world via the Web. Articles, talk shows and postings have bandied back and forth about why her singing engendered the reaction that it did.

I read a lot of this, but the best article I’ve found by far was written by Mimi Kramer-Bryk. Mimi is a critic who makes reading a review pure pleasure, whether mercilessly impugning a misfired idea or celebrating a good one. I love her honesty and waspish wit, but more than anything I love her ability to say with clarity what was inchoate and inflectional, a sense of things I couldn’t quite put into words.

That’s what she does with Susan Boyle in this essay, Susan Boyle and the Tigers of the Night on the blog she writes with her husband and writer William Bryk called City of Smoke. It was a pure aha moment. It is a can’t miss piece.

To add a small note of personal history regarding Ms Kramer-Bryk: I first met Mimi when I moved to New York City from California in the 1970s. She was a teenager living upstairs from mutual friends. Staggeringly sophisticated, urbane and witty, well read and stunningly beautiful, Mimi charmed me right from the get go, and we were thick as thieves for many years. We lost track of each other in the ensuing years, but reconnecting with her has been a reunion of the sweetest order.

One Reply to “Boyled”

  1. Thanks Deborah, for the link to Mimi’s article. It’s insightful and beautifully written, and brings up many points that the media here in Canada seemed to miss.

    Rather than focus on whether this was a “set-up” or whether the audience would have jeered had Susan not sung so beautifully, isn’t this more about the yearnings that many ordinary people have, of transforming one’s mundane life into something with meaning? This especially despite the ease with which society judges and dismisses those who aren’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or don’t dress a certain way?

    Great reading, and thinking about.

    Val Nelson

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