Award-winning journalist Beth Macy featured at library’s visiting author series
Journalist Beth Macy’s book, “Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town,” has surfaced on bestseller and best books of 2014 lists from the New York Times to Publishers Weekly, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, it will land in the hands of Steamboat locals when Macy speaks about the ins and outs of her book at the Bud Werner Memorial Library.
The book — which Tom Hanks recently bought the rights to for an HBO mini-series — chronicles the waves of factory job outsourcing during 21st century globalization trends through the lens of small-town Virginia furniture factory owner John Bassett III, who combatted this trend to salvage the jobs of his 700 employees.
“A lot of people in Steamboat that come from a compelling business background from all over the country will be interested in hearing about this story and perspective on local and global business,” said Jenny Lay, the library’s adult program coordinator.
As a journalist working primarily for the Roanoke Times, Macy has written about families with pregnant teens, the love story of a late World War II pilot and his wife and how to detect the onset of Alzheimer’s, among other topics. Her stories tend to centralize around underdogs and outsiders.
“People in this country are largely invisible, partially because the people who write stories just don’t know them,” Macy said. “They get overlooked. I think because I grew up that way myself, I see them better and want to write about them so others can understand people not like themselves.”
Macy originally published the beginning segments of the story in the Roanoke Times. Upon meeting Bassett, she instantly sensed a story waiting to be written.
“When I met John Bassett, the hair on the back of my neck stuck up, kind of like story-spidey sense,” Macy said. “He’s outrageous. Nobody had written about him because he had done what he did for the furniture industry from a small town, but I could chase the story across history and the globe.”
Macy poured every skill she had learned throughout her career into this project, prying any person related to Bassett’s story and that of the local consequences of globalization, studying investigative documents and determining census trends.
“As I got deeper into writing the story, more threads between events started appearing,” Macy said. “There were these new connections in the story that I didn’t know about when I was reporting. The story just became more fascinating and complicated, in a good way, and I knew there was enough to turn it into a book.”
Twenty-seven chapters later, Macy had published “Factory Man,” and the book has since gained a reputation as an accurate, sincere depiction of globalization and its consequences on local businesses and employees.
“Her book is a fascinating story, especially since she is such a talented journalist” Lay said. “It’s compelling to hear from the people who have done the really deep research and interviewing since they can share that inside perspective.”
For more information on Macy, visit intrepidpapergirl.com.
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