Why “-ISH” is OK and Culture is Worth a Little Risk

Whenever I tell people my favorite book, they are shocked. Not many people have heard of The Executioner’s Song. Not even many Norman Mailer fans know much about it. The 1980 Pulitzer Prize winning “true-life story” uses a lean Capote-ish “non-fiction novel” style. Like In Cold Blood, it moves beyond a conventional novelistic approach. Which brings me to my point, the advertising business, while at times progressive, can often be risk adverse. We find ourselves leaning into convention rather than away from it. We’d rather copy what Capote did, because it is more likely to be successful, than try something Capote-ISH and build on it. “ISH” is ok because you are working from a known foundation and exploring the unknown. Scary? Yes. But as Mailer once said: “Culture is worth a little risk.”


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