The essence of style is avoidance. We learn not to attempt what we know we cannot do well. Authors who can’t write dialogue concoct an aesthetic that has no use for it—and hope critics call them daring and experimental. Reporters allowed to pick and choose among topics reject perfectly good story ideas because they recognize the mismatch—good idea, wrong writer.
When John Kass set out to interview the candidates running for governor I wondered if he would stumble over Jim Ryan. It’s not that Kass is blind to Ryan’s flaws, but unlike with George Ryan’s, or Rod Blagojevich’s, he’s just not that into them. So when it comes to Jim Ryan, Kass, for whatever reason, is the wrong writer.