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Tag Archives: Tom Wolfe

“Why’s this so good?” No. 90: George Plimpton and Sidd Finch

Twenty-nine years ago today, Sports Illustrated ran George Plimpton’s “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” about a mysterious, unknown major league pitching recruit who threw a fastball at jet speed. Published on April Fools’ Day 1985, the piece carried the following deck: He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent lifestyle, [...]

What we’re reading: Narratives on the Boston Marathon bombing and a tunnel tragedy + essays on empathy and religion + smartphone photos as a reporting tool + the future of digital longform

What we’re reading, in the world of narrative journalism, essays and academia: Long Mile Home: Boston Under Attack, the City’s Courageous Recovery, and the Epic Hunt for Justice, by Scott Helman and Jenna Russell. Helman and Russell, Boston Globe reporters, tell the narrative of the Boston Marathon bombing and the week that followed, through the [...]

‘Your job is to be a storyteller’ — Pamela Colloff, winner of this year’s Louis M. Lyons Award

Each year, the current class of Nieman Fellows chooses a winner of the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. Winners have included reporters who’ve put their lives at risk to cover wars, urban violence, repressive regimes and organized crime. The Class of 2014 has chosen Texas Monthly’s Pamela Colloff, for what [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 87: Hunter S. Thompson and the Kentucky Derby

It’s easy to miss. A sobering second, surrounded by intemperance. But there it is, the transitional scene after Hunter S. Thompson opens “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” with some lewd banter in a Louisville airport bar. He’s returned home to cover the race for a no-name magazine, and right away he meets a [...]

Annotation Tuesday! Gay Talese and “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”

Gay Talese lives on the East Side of Manhattan, in a four-story brownstone he moved into in 1958, at age 26. When we met there recently to talk about his iconic Esquire profile “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” we chatted in a room that, in a house of such grandeur, one would have to call the [...]

Pamela Colloff and Tom Junod talk storytelling

At the recent City & Regional Magazine Association conference in Atlanta, Esquire’s Tom Junod and Texas Monthly’s Pamela Colloff interviewed each other for an audience of narrative lovers. Atlanta magazine’s Tony Rehagen kindly recorded the session exclusively for Storyboard. You can hear the conversation in its entirety (an hour and 22 minutes) below, with an introduction by Steve [...]

Professor Hersey: one student, the iconic author of ‘Hiroshima,’ and 6 timeless takeaways

In good fiction, the reader absorbing a compelling narrative never notices the writer as intermediary. In nonfiction, that translator’s presence is inevitable. Since the former is the ideal relationship with the reader, the more you can bring that non-point of view to nonfiction narrative, the better. In other words, as a writer, no matter what the hell you’re writing, do your best to kill your ego, even if those are mutually exclusive ideals. (i.e.: He could have told the story of the effect of that atomic bomb on an innocent city by telling us what he found when he went over there, and it would have been a good piece. Instead he gave the story over to the six survivors, and it earned a place in immortality.)

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: All Hale verbs

Word nerds, you’ll want to stock up on yellow highlighters for Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Constance Hale’s newest book on writing and language. In her follow-up to Sin and Syntax, Hale, a journalist and writing teacher, autopsies and deifies verbs. Verbs, nerds! From whence they came; and why good writing can’t exist without them. After reading [...]

“Why’s this so good?” No. 61: John McPhee and the archdruid

The New Journalism of the 1960s and 1970s – by Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, and others – made the biggest collective splash in recent American nonfiction, and certainly enlarged our idea of what the genre could do. The best of it may endure, but, 50 or 100 years from now, will people still be enthralled by Thompson’s psychedelic ramblings or the early Wolfe’s strings of italics and exclamation marks? More lasting, I think, as a grand pointillist mural of our time and place as expressed in the lives of an encyclopedic range of people, will be the work of John McPhee.

“What’s on your syllabus?”

Every narrative journalist can point to a story or a book, or two, that changed their lives, and that made them want to tell true stories. What story does it for you? Where was your love born? When we asked about influential writing via Twitter, answers came in a flurry. Wright Thompson said North Toward Home, [...]