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1   P N Dr Lo R   ignore (0)   2018 May 16, 9:07am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Tenpoundbass says
Hunter S. Thompson writes a heartfelt letter to author Tom Wolfe

“The New Journalism” was edited by Wolfe, who included an excerpt from “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” and his essay “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.” He also wrote a polemical and hubristic three-part introduction and an appendix. Wolfe made fun of contemporary novelists and made fun of newspaper writing and then described the development, starting around 1960, of a group of people who were writing journalism—fact-based reportage—that read like novels, journalists who, in Wolfe’s words, “wanted to dress up like novelists.”

These journalists, Wolfe wrote, used four devices: scene-by-scene construction, realistic dialogue, a third-person point of view (where the reader feels as if he or she is inside a character’s mind), and then, in contrast to traditional newspaper journalism, a descriptive eye, where a subject’s clothing, manners, eating, and living room are as important for the writer to document as the subject’s words. “The basic reporting unit is no longer the datum, the piece of information, but the scene, since most of the sophisticated strategies of prose depend upon scenes,” he wrote. He called the process Saturation Reporting: “Often you feel as if you’ve put your whole central nervous system on red alert and turned it into a receiving set with your head panning the molten tableau like a radar dish, with you saying, ‘Come in, world,’ since you only want . . . all of it . . . ”

Certain essays in the anthology cohered into a vision of literature of which I was the ideal reader: Joan Didion’s “Some Dreamers of a Golden Dream,” Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” Michael Herr’s “Khesanh,” and Terry Southern’s “Twirling at Ole Miss.” Just as Smith had warned, the writers for whom I was the ideal reader were not, as she put it, “the writers you most respect, most envy, or even most enjoy. They are the ones you know.” I was not necessarily the ideal reader of Tom Wolfe, but it was he who had identified a strategy and an approach and pointed out writers for whom they had worked, those who avoided “a century-old British tradition in which it was understood that the narrator shall assume a calm, cultivated and, in fact, genteel voice.” He described the devices of his own prose: the “Hectoring Narrator,” who might talk to or insult the characters; the “Downstage Voice,” where Wolfe would adopt the tone and vocabulary of one of his characters in a paragraph of background or history; and his famous use of punctuation. “I found that things like exclamation points, italics, and abrupt shifts (dashes) and syncopations (dots) helped give illusion not only of a person talking but of a person thinking,” he wrote.

Not everybody liked the New Journalism. “I’ll have your goddamn femurs ground into bone splinters if you ever mention my name again in connection with that horrible ‘new journalism’ shuck you’re promoting,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote in a 1971 letter to Wolfe. (He ended up with two chapters in the anthology.) Renata Adler, a contemporary, once accused Wolfe of making up facts, and wrote that she “detested” the new style, which she saw as a corruption of a style of first-person-inflected writing that had been invented in The New Yorker. “The facts dissolved,” she wrote. “The writer was everything.” By the time I became the ideal reader of “The New Journalism” it was, of course, the old journalism, as dated as E. M. Forster, and even more so. It was out of style and ridden with all the usual symptoms of unchecked white male privilege. There was, in the early aughts, instead another movement in creative nonfiction, a genre you might call kinetic nonfiction: Mark Bowden writing about downed helicopters in Somalia; Jon Krakauer on climbing Everest; Susan Orlean on stealing orchids; Sebastian Junger on the perfect storm.

In 2005, an anthology came out called “The New New Journalism,” which was in many ways an explicit rejection of Tom Wolfe’s shenanigans. This generation of nonfiction writers cracked fewer jokes, avoided verbal acrobatics, and did not have run-on sentences or exclamation points. They generally wrote in the third person and adopted what looked like a politically neutral posture. If they were uncertain about the politics of being an upper-middle-class white person writing about a poor Latin family in the Bronx, or about turning a military tragedy into the stuff of a Robert Ludlum thriller, they never let on to it. It was not a journalism of self-consciousness but of authority. The emphasis was on journalistic method rather than experimentation with form and language. Nonfiction writing had emerged from the candy-flake tangerine-colored fog into something less stylized—the emphasis on “scenes” remained, but there was a return to the genteel, “invisible” voice of the narrator.

Unlike the New Journalists, some of whom admitted to (or were accused of) chronological elisions and embellishments of dialogue, the reader could trust that the new generation of American nonfiction writers had recorded the interviews and transcribed the quotes and had been fair with their sources. I respected the journalistic rigor, and I was half-convinced by those who argued that there was something noble in erasing the author from the narrative. But can I say that I found it less pleasurable to read? I like nonfiction writing with a distinctive narrative voice, I like metaphor, I like ornate descriptions of the physical world. I like humor, sarcasm, and irony.
2   Ceffer   ignore (1)   2018 May 16, 11:29am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

"Bonfire Of The Vanities" is racis.

It's nice to know that in 1971, Hunter Thompson wasn't too pickled to cuss like a Scotsman on acid. Tee Hee, acid, Wolfe, etc. I made an elliptical!

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