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Tag Archives: John Jeremiah Sullivan

The sense of an ending: Ben Yagoda on A.J. Liebling, Katherine Boo, Sonia Nazario, John Jeremiah Sullivan, David Foster Wallace, Joseph Mitchell and more

Whether you spell them “ledes” or “leads,” opening lines get a lot of attention. And why wouldn’t they? Sitting at the keyboard, with all the tedious and sometimes annoying reporting done, a writer is spoiled for choice, a world of possibilities at his or her disposal. To be sure, that seemingly limitless choice can be [...]

#crowdsourced: great examples of the write-around

Last week, a student asked for notable examples of the write-around, that subgenre in which the journalist had limited to no access with the story subject. The most famous examples are Gay Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” and, to a lesser extent, Talese’s piece on DiMaggio, “The Silent Season of a Hero.” We took the question to [...]

In praise of the sentence

The first chapter of How to Write a Sentence (and How to Read One), by Stanley Fish, begins with this paragraph: In her book The Writing Life (1989), Annie Dillard tells the story of a fellow writer who was asked by a student, “Do you think I could be a writer?” “ ‘Well,’ the writer [...]

The Music of Narrative: Songs from great literary journalism

A story without sound lies too dead on the page. Imagine “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster,” by Jon Franklin, without the pop … pop … pop of the operating-room sensors. Or Tom Wolfe’s “The Girl of the Year” — the 1964 New York magazine classic on “it” girl Jane Holzer — without the manic rhythms: She is gorgeous [...]

“Why’s this so good?” — The Spring Break edition

In our “Why’s this so good?” series, contributors break down a favorite piece of journalistic storytelling. In honor of this, the season of Spring Break, three great reads in first-person major, on excursions tinged with existentialism. Megan Garber, Paul Kix and Brent McDonald revisit an ocean voyage, a music festival and a county fair. Megan [...]

Pinned: Elizabeth Kolbert, Gillian Blake, Todd C. Frankel, John Jeremiah Sullivan, storytellers in trouble, a healing cruise and two schools of cliches

For your weekend reading pleasure, items from our Pinterest boards … Recommended Reading: A news photographer, a layoff, a death, and then things got even worse. From the John Woodrow Cox’s short “Dispatches from Next Door: The pale glow of a brighter day:” Determined to return, he spent his severance on camera gear instead of [...]

Nieman Lab summer reading + Barry Hannah + the brain and dramatic arc + a Japanese pitching sensation + a new board

Pinned this week for your storytelling pleasure: The Recommended board has been especially busy: • Our sister pub Nieman Lab has been engaging in a little summer reading from our Nieman Foundation library, a treasure trove that spans our 75-year history as the world’s oldest and best-known study program for journalists. Ours is “one of [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 75: Dan P. Lee and the father who lost everything

My estimable friend and former colleague Paul Kix recently wrote a column in this space on John Jeremiah Sullivan. In it he cited an essay Sullivan wrote about the art of writing: A fundamental law of storytelling is: withhold information. As the writer Paul Metcalf put it, “The only real work in creative endeavor is [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 71: John Jeremiah Sullivan and “Upon This Rock”

Last summer, John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote an essay about Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom!, and amid his deft and borderline genius thoughts on the novel – “It…dramatize[s] historical consciousness itself, not just human lives but the forest of time in which the whole notion of human life must find its only meaning” – Sullivan said something telling [...]