Last week, when we were reading economics reporter Edmund Andrews’s epic, frightening story in The New York Times Magazine—an excerpt of his book Busted which is about how he and his wife were sucked into a whirlpool of debt by the easy credit of the bubble—we groaned when we got to the part where he introduced his then-fiancée, “Patricia Barreiro,” whom he described as “brainy, regal, sexy, fiery and eclectic.”
“Ugh,” we said to our significant other, who shall remain nameless for soon-to-be-obvious reasons. “It really annoys me when writers put the full names of their spouses in their articles. Like in Heat when Bill Buford kept being all, ‘My wife, Jessica Green.’ Why is that so irritating?”
“It’s because it’s there to benefit someone other than the reader,” our spouse replied, for he is wise.
Yeah, and writers should really stop doing that. Especially when, as it turns out, they are concealing information about said spouse that, if discovered, completely changes the entire tenor of their story. For instance, the Atlantic has found out that in addition to being “brainy, regal, sexy, fiery and eclectic,” Andrews’s wife also has declared bankruptcy twice.
This the sort of detail that makes his story seem less like a morality tale for our time ( “a misadventure,” as Andrews characterized it, that was perhaps “more extreme than those of many other Americans” but “not all that unusual”) than something that happens to people who have a problem. Per the Atlantic:
This is really highly unusual … Serial bankruptcy is not a creation of the current credit crisis, and it doesn’t just happen to anyone, particularly anyone with a six figure salary …. Andrews married a woman with a lengthy history of debt and spending problems. Serial bankrupts were getting into trouble long before there was a credit bubble, indeed long before there were credit cards or 30-year self-amortizing mortgages.
Andrews has not yet responded to the news of this discovery.
When called for comment yesterday, Andrews was unavailable, but there is no question that it is his wife: his income and occupation are prominently featured in the docket.
See, all of these pesky details might have remained secret if he’d just avoided using her last name.
The Road to Bankruptcy [Atlantic]