Stuck in the Middle
We looked at these “matched-set” essays as exploratory exercises, not excuses for “they don't make ’em like they used to” screeds or, on the other side, reassertions that independence equals truth and Hollywood is inherently artificial.
Just as pageantry has long been a part of American culture, so has the National Spelling Bee, a pervasive test of academic acumen despite the fact that it requires a kind of mechanical rigor that has gone out of favor with modern educational systems in this country.
Any assessment of The Station Agent may be less an objective valuation of its worthiness than an assertion of a certain set of evaluative criteria, a choice between “highbrow” or “elitist” artistic pleasure/edification and “middlebrow” sensitivity/entertainment.
Unlike Julia, Capote focuses more on its characters than the goings on surrounding them. In the former, characters get lost in the maelstrom of history; the actual murders that serve as the catalyst for Capote's book are of secondary importance to their eventual effect on the author.