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The New New Journalism: Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft (Vintage Original) [Kindle Edition]

Robert Boynton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Forty years after Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and Gay Talese launched the New Journalism movement, Robert S. Boynton sits down with nineteen practitioners of what he calls the New New Journalism to discuss their methods, writings and careers.

The New New Journalists are first and foremost brilliant reporters who immerse themselves completely in their subjects. Jon Krakauer accompanies a mountaineering expedition to Everest. Ted Conover works for nearly a year as a prison guard. Susan Orlean follows orchid fanciers to reveal an obsessive subculture few knew existed. Adrian Nicole LeBlanc spends nearly a decade reporting on a family in the South Bronx. And like their muckraking early twentieth-century precursors, they are drawn to the most pressing issues of the day: Alex Kotlowitz, Leon Dash, and William Finnegan to race and class; Ron Rosenbaum to the problem of evil; Michael Lewis to boom-and-bust economies; Richard Ben Cramer to the nitty gritty of politics. How do they do it? In these interviews, they reveal the techniques and inspirations behind their acclaimed works, from their felt-tip pens, tape recorders, long car rides, and assumed identities; to their intimate understanding of the way a truly great story unfolds.

Interviews with:
Gay Talese
Jane Kramer*
Calvin Trillin
Richard Ben Cramer*
Ted Conover*
Alex Kotlowitz*
Richard Preston*
William Langewiesche*
Eric Schlosser
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr*
Jon Krakauer*
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis*
Susan Orlean
Ron Rosenbaum
Lawrence Weschler*
Lawrence Wright*

* Search our online catalog to find other titles by these Vintage and Anchor Books authors.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Boynton uses the clunky moniker "new new journalism" to describe a group of reporters today who write article- and book-length examinations of their subjects, often pioneering new reporting techniques (such as Adrian Nicole Leblanc's trick of leaving her tape recorder with her subjects when she went home as a way of getting them to open up without her around--a method that worked to wonderful effect in her Random Family). Yet, Boynton points out, these writers also stay true to strict journalistic standards, unlike Tom Wolfe and the New Journalists, whose creative narrative methods broke all the rules. Many of the reporters Boynton highlights are also motivated by an activist impulse that informs but never overpowers their work. Boynton, the director of New York University's magazine journalism program, offers a nuts-and-bolts approach to understanding the way these reporters write, interviewing them on the smallest of details, such as how they organize their notes, what color pens they use and how they set ground rules with sources who aren't media savvy. Featuring lengthy discussions with star scribes such as William Langewiesche (American Ground) and Michael Lewis (Moneyball), this batch of discussions is a gold mine of technique, approach and philosophy for journalists, writers and close readers alike. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Building on the tradition of literary journalism--from nineteenth-century writers Lincoln Steffens and Stephen Crane through Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer--the latest practitioners continue to apply keen skills of social observation and to enjoy public acclaim that promises continued support for this predominantly American craft. Boynton offers interviews with 19 writers who detail how and why they produce their work: Alex Kotlowitz tends to stumble onto his subjects, Jon Krakauer hates interviewing people in restaurants, Leon Dash refuses to become emotionally involved with his subjects, Jane Kramer appreciates the stylistic prose of literary nonfiction writers, Richard Preston is mechanically inept and prefers to take notes rather than use a tape recorder, and Ron Rosenbaum prefers the typewriter to the computer. Interviewees also include Gay Talese, William Finnegan, Susan Orlean, and Lawrence Weschler. Boynton asks the writers how they get their ideas, conduct their research and interviews, and begin the writing process as well as their takes on the future prospects for literary journalism. A fascinating book that makes the reader want to go out and get every book the writers have written as well as those mentioned as sources of inspiration. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 798 KB
  • Print Length: 494 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 140003356X
  • Publisher: Vintage (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU8EJQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,844 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful interviews make for a great read August 12, 2005
For any inspiring journalists or writers, avid readers, and followers of media trends in this country, this book is a great look into how journalists and writers do what they do.

The book is organized as a series of interview transcripts, asking each reporter how they do what they do. From "What is your daily routine?" to "How do you come up with ideas?" and "How do you decide who to interview?", the questions are very nicely worded to offer the reader the right information.

What emerges through the unique voices of each writer is a picture of creative non-fiction, a genre combining old-school reporting methods and forward-looking creative thinking and ways of presenting information.

This book is hard to read in one sitting, since the questions in each interview are pretty much the same and can get repetitive. However, it is a great book to pick up from time to time and read bits of and I certainly have loved working through it.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a look inside . . . June 12, 2005
By erica2
If you want to know how those stylish writers at the New Yorker pull off those long, fascinating "fact" pieces, this is the book for you. The author has interviewed over a dozen of what he calls the "new new" journalists, and the interviews reveal some of their tricks of the trade, working methods, approach, attitude, etc. I think those who aspire to write in this way will get the most out of this book, because reading it is like sitting down with these top-flight journalists and picking their brains.

I give it 3 stars because it's not a work of art or anything . . . I mean, the same questions, more or less, are repeated in each interview, and the intro to each chapter distills information and quotes that follow in the chapter, so I don't see this book as being a grand literary achievement per se. But it's useful, and I came away from it with an increased appreciation of how hard these journalists work--sometimes staying with the same story for months or years, and putting hundreds or thousands of hours into one long article. (Of course, when they expand the article into a book, the time they invested continues to produce returns.) Anyway, if you are a journalist or are someone interested in the way high-level literary journalism is currently being carried out, you'll find what you're looking for in this paperback original.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where (New) Journalism and Anthropology meet January 3, 2006
This is a great book, especially for nonfiction writers. It covers everything from the mechanics of writing (e.g., the best time of day to write, the number of words per writing session we promise ourselves) to the complexities of fieldwork and interviewing strategies, how to synthesize vast amounts of information, and how to stimulate the creative process. The fieldwork and interviewing strategies of these journalists very much resemble what I use as an applied anthropologist focusing on Africa, and poorer nations generally. In fact, some of these journalists either had anthropological training, or, like Leon Dash, they are good-naturedly referred to as "our staff anthropologist" by their colleagues.

The link between "new journalism" and anthropology is primarily the participant-observation fieldwork technique these journalists use, basically meaning that they live among and share the lives of those they write about. Total immersion. Of course, anthropologists traditionally did ethnographic fieldwork for least at least 1-2 years before writing about their adopted society, while journalists typically spend less time researching an article or book.

I found myself underlining this book on almost every other page. There are little gems strewn everywhere. Nineteen journalists were interviewed for this book and I did not encounter one that I found uninteresting or who did not teach me something valuable for the work and writing I do myself.

One recurring theme is that these writers often challenge and overturn conventional wisdom. For example, journalist William Finnegan (two of whose books I happen to have read) went to Somalia in 1995 expecting to find little more than anarchy, anomie and mayhem.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New-News Off Old Time Razmatazz June 10, 2005
Literary nonfiction, once considered the asinine sidecar to the novel's Harley Davidson, made extensive gains in the 1960's with the emergence of such charismatic storytellers as Tom Wolfe and Truman Capote. Christening themselves the New Journalists, these writers were prone to extended sprees of rock stardom with a notepad, often at the expense of factual sincerity. Such landmark texts as Wolfe's The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test or Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made reporting secondary to entertainment value.

The New New Journalism by Robert S. Boynton bawls a hefty yawp in announcing, "The days in which nonfiction writers test the limits of language and form have largely passed." To prove it, Boynton, the director of New York University's graduate magazine journalism program, has compiled nineteen of his interviews with contemporary journalists who bear more resemblance to the muckrakers of the 19th Century than to the famously dubbed New Journalists of the 20th. We find that the biting sizzle of a Hunter S. Thompson has been swapped for the incessant inquiry and cataloguing of the New News.

But even if such glory mongering has been overthrown by a militia of Joe Fridays who want "just the facts," readers of today's non-fiction are not complaining thanks to the sheer depth of revelation sustained by what Rolling Nowhere author Ted Conover considers "participant observer" journalism. It is an arena where relentless scrutinizers of fact avoid leaping into the fracas themselves, offering instead a detached play-by-play of the weighty social, political, and cultural racket that surrounds them. At times they must become what Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air, calls "the worm in the apple.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tips
Great thoughts in here from great journalists. Bought the book for a class. If you are interested in narrative writing, I would recommend it.
Published 7 months ago by Becca
4.0 out of 5 stars Great chance to hear other writers methods
The book gives interviews with several well known writers about how they conduct interviews, follow-up leads and create stories. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Wendy Eilers
5.0 out of 5 stars To do something well, follow the greats
There is a genius in the format of this book: interviews with 19 of the best nonfiction storytellers of our time, which ask the same questions in the same order for each one. Read more
Published on October 11, 2012 by Charles C. Euchner
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully Insightful
I could not put this down. If you are an aspiring writer or journalist, this book will fascinate. Brief bios and then interviews with some amazing authors. Read more
Published on March 28, 2012 by Stupid Polymath
4.0 out of 5 stars New Jornalism
Writer Robert S. Boynton began a writing course and he did not have a firm footing on how to teach writing. So he began to share his story on what made him a writer. Read more
Published on December 26, 2011 by Dr. Wilson Trivino
4.0 out of 5 stars For all the muckrakers out there...
This book is basically just a lot of nonfiction writers getting interviewed about how they write. It ranges from how they specifically wrote some of their greatest books to how... Read more
Published on July 22, 2010 by thegrimes
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond the Title
So New Journalism is new again. Whether or not you agree with this premise (and many of the journalists interviewed deferred the tag "new new journalist"), there's no denying that... Read more
Published on July 5, 2010 by Anastasia Beaverhausen
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful Book, Though Narrow
This book's apparent weakness eventually becomes its strength. The author, Boynton, interviews a bunch of writers on how they do what they do. Read more
Published on June 14, 2010 by Agent Tao
3.0 out of 5 stars I had to buy this for a class
This book is a collection of interviews conducted on innovative writers. It's vaguely interesting if journalism is your thing. Read more
Published on January 7, 2009 by crisray
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time
This is a great idea, to present some of the best new, new journalism folks around. I did not read all 19 author interviews word for word (some I skimmed), but found all of them... Read more
Published on August 16, 2007 by Joanne A. Williams
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