Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History

Armies of the Night Norman Mailer Pulitzer Prize winner, Norman Mailer. I’m reading through this book with much difficulty, straining to see the brilliance in it others have seen, and of course how it justifies its prize winning hype. Okay, it’s the same conundrum I faced in art school when they tried to convince me…

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The New Journalism

The New Journalism Tom Wolfe Having just read The New Journalism by Tom Wolfe, I’m compelled to say something about it, but not inspired. Nonetheless, you’ve gotta love an anthology and that’s what this is; a slice out of time with Tom Wolfe as an excellent curator. He’s a straight shooter and firsthand participant, which…

Talese Writes His Way Into “College Material”

The Gay Talese Reader Gay Talese I tried to imagine Gay Talese physically positioned within each of his stories. Okay, he’s a journalist—so he is, in effect, interviewing subjects with the express intention of writing about them. I considered the physical closeness—he had to be in their space; their semi-private space in order to capture…

Giovanni’s Room

Giovanni’s Room James Baldwin There are just some books that you want in your library. You consider their content is so ageless. You hold onto them like an heirloom. You want the pride of ownership; the physical copy in hardcover that can be displayed as a testament to your good choice of literature. You want to announce…

The Thing Around Your Neck

The Thing Around Your Neck Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Author, Chimamanda Adichie, justifies her well-deserved acclaim in this collection of twelve short stories. She deftly combines the universality of relationships, struggles, and triumphs with snippets of history, social studies, and culture (mostly Nigerian) but, not exclusively. After all, no one and no place is an island,…

Incoming Fan Mail

Slouching Towards Bethlehem Joan Didion Incoming fan mail: Dear Joan Didion, the only woman presented me in this good ole’ boy’s club called “The New Journalism.” Having read three books into this “genre” I grow anxious straining to find some diversity among the new journalists. Many of you have whispered about social ills in your…

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood Truman Capote The connection this story from 1959 has with current conundrums is uncanny.  Unfortunately it also proves that everything old is new again—especially when we see disparity with regard to socio-economic status weaved into one of the prevailing themes in this novel: an argument about capital punishment.  Nevertheless, Truman Capote artfully…

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot This is the way you want to learn about a dry topic like the history of cell culture. Throw in some human intrigue, race relations, and the evolution of women’s health, along with clinical fact, and you’ve got a book that entertains and informs. The cast of…