The Disillusionment of Rough Draft



I was intrigued by Katy Tur’s description of her latest book Rough Draft when I saw her making the rounds on the morning shows discussing it and the tumultuous past she had. I was drawn in by her desire to stop running from her past and start answering the challenging questions we all have, who am I? Is what I am doing meaningful or matter? However, the book in its entirety was a letdown. 

Katy’s desire to seek her purposes grew stronger when her mother sent her a flash drive containing thousands of hours of videos that Katy’s father (Robert Tur) and mother (Marika Gerrard Tur) had compiled over the years from being the first team to capture aerial feed of news stories that changed the landscape of journalism. If you are familiar with or have ever seen the OJ Simpson police chase, you have the Tur’s to thank for being first on the scene and sharing the live feed of the now infamous car chase. When her parents started a family, she would join in on their chase to cover the latest headline. She loved the feeling of being in the sky, high above the Los Angeles City skyline and feeling like she was part of something. Unfortunately, the chase came with turbulent outbursts from her father. She remembers the rage, the shouting, and the physical abuse.

The first half of Rough Draft is filled with moments that make up a portion of who she is. The rage that filled the spaces at home. The admiration for her loving grandmother, Judy – her savior. The excruciating past she spent years running from, a feeling that most adult children of alcoholics understand. We run as fast as we can to escape the trauma that is embedded in the fibers of our skin. It is the belief that if we run fast, we can leave our tortured pasts behind, sweat the trauma away and not end up like our angry parents, but we lose the race. There in the darkness lures the rage we caged when we were too frightened to speak up.

Katy fails to dig deep and lead us on her path of self-discovery. She did not delve into the parts of her that mirror her father. She writes one line about throwing a potato at her husband, Tony Dokoupil’s head in the epilogue. A blimp into, perhaps a moment, resembling something from her childhood. I would have liked to read more about how she has disentangled her present from her past and what she is doing to avoid repeating the same mistakes her father made with her.

Rather than feeling empowered, I was disenchanted. There is a part of me that feels duped by the idea that she represented in her interviews. Yes, there is a portion of the book in which she details her childhood and relationship with her estranged father, but it falls short. She had moments where she could have shared more but chose to keep it superficial.I thought that this book could have been an introspective body of work, however it veered away from anything remotely close to introspect to her experience living in Europe for a short stint, the 2016 election, and alcaldes that were rightfully earned, but I cannot stop feeling that both halves of this memoir could have been separate books. It is important to write about the present, but the connection between today and yesterday is lost. Why did she write about her father’s rage and hurt caused if she was not going to share how it affects her – if at all. I was sold on an idea that did not come into fruition.

I was enthralled when reading about her childhood and the glimpses she detailed related to her estranged relationship with her father, who has since transitioned from Robert Tur to Zoey Tur. Halfway through, the book lost its luster, and I struggled to get through it. That is not to say that what she wrote about was not interesting, but it seemed like two vastly different ideas were merged and neither of them were executed to their fullest potential.

I do hope that Katy chooses to pen another memoir where she writes about the impact that her father’s fits of rage have made and how it may affect her today. I want to know if she has discovered pieces of her that were broken that she has managed to salvage. If Katy authors another memoir, I hope that she makes an honest effort in sharing her past and tying it to her present. I want to hear about her courage, her pain, and the healing she has made. I want honesty, not a cookie cutter journalistic perspective of the life she has survived.

All pictures are Mari Rey Originals.