non-fiction novel

13 results back to index


pages: 363 words: 123,076

The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote, and the New Journalism Revolution by Marc Weingarten

1960s counterculture, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, citizen journalism, cognitive dissonance, Donner party, East Village, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Haight Ashbury, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, post-work, pre–internet, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, upwardly mobile, working poor, yellow journalism

What Capote had in mind was a narrative that would burrow deep into the lives of everyone who was touched by the murder—not only the Clutters, but Perry and Hickock, Al Dewey and his team of detectives, the citizens of Holcomb and Garden City. Using John Hersey’s Hiroshima as a model, Capote would re-create the events using the omniscient voice of a novel—or, to use Capote’s memorable phrase, a “nonfiction novel.” “My theory,” said Capote, “is that you can take any subject and make it into a nonfiction novel. By that I don’t mean a historical or documentary novel—those are popular and interesting but impure genres, with neither the persuasiveness of fact nor thepoetic altitude of fiction. Lots of friends I’ve told these ideas to accuse me of failure of imagination. Ha! I tell them they’re the ones whose imaginations have failed, not me. What I’ve done is much harder than a conventional novel.

Bill Brown thought that Capote’s portrayal of the Clutters was so off the mark as to be virtually unrecognizable. The 135,000-word story ran in four parts in four consecutive issues of The New Yorker beginning with the September 25, 1965, issue; the series was a hit, busting all previous sales records for the magazine. When Random House published it in book form as In Cold Blood, it heralded the arrival of a new form, what Capote called the “nonfiction novel,” and netted its author $2 million in paperback and film sales. Even after the story was published to great fanfare, William Shawn remained uncomfortable with the decision to run it in The New Yorker. For a magazine that prided itself on ironclad accuracy, there was too much unsubstantiated fact, too much fanciful speculation on Capote’s part. Many years later Shawn would still rue the day he gave the green light to Capote’s notion.


pages: 281 words: 78,317

But What if We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, citizen journalism, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, George Santayana, Gerolamo Cardano, ghettoisation, Howard Zinn, Isaac Newton, Joan Didion, non-fiction novel, obamacare, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the medium is the message, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Y2K

Taken at face value, it seems like the former quality should be preferable to the latter—yet we know this is not true, due to the inclusion of the word “but.” The fox knows a lot, but the hedgehog knows one singular thing that obviously matters more. So what is that singular thing? Well, maybe this: The fox knows all the facts, and the fox can place those facts into a logical context. The fox can see how history and politics intertwine, and he can knit them into a nonfiction novel that makes narrative sense. But the fox can’t see the future, so he assumes it does not exist. The fox is a naïve realist who believes the complicated novel he has constructed is almost complete. Meanwhile, the hedgehog constructs nothing. He just reads over the fox’s shoulder. But he understands something about the manuscript that the fox can’t comprehend—this book will never be finished.

Take any two white males raised in the same income bracket in the same section of the same city, and assume they receive the same treatment from law enforcement and financial institutions and prospective employers. They’re still not equal. One of these people will be smarter than the other. One will be more physically attractive. One will be predisposed to work harder and care more. Even in a pure meritocracy, they would experience differing levels of happiness. “It is not the case that we are born equal and that the conditions of life make our lives unequal,” writes Karl Ove Knausgaard in his nonfiction novel My Struggle: Book 2. “It is the opposite, we are born unequal, and the conditions of life make us more equal.” The apparent unfairness of reality can’t be blamed on our inability to embody this “self-evident” principle. The world would be just as unfair if we did. I realize there’s a natural response to the previous statement, and it’s the same response I would have given fifteen years ago: “This is a conscious misreading of the message.


Lonely Planet Pocket Bruges & Brussels by Lonely Planet, Helena Smith

glass ceiling, haute cuisine, non-fiction novel, Skype

Join locals buying snacks such as maatjes (herring fillets). On weekends, the Vismarkt and nearby Dijver are taken over by antique and bric-a-brac stalls. (Steenhouwersdijk; 8am-1pm Tue-Sat) 33 De Reyghere Reisboekhandel Books Offline map Google map Poring over the huge range of travel guides in English, Dutch and French at this specialised travel bookshop is guaranteed to give you itchy feet. Its adjoining sister store has general nonfiction, novels and English newspapers. ( 050 33 34 03; Markt 12; 9.30am-noon Tue-Sat & 2pm-6pm Mon-Sat) The art of lace-making QONITA ZANIS/GETTY IMAGES © 34 De Biertempel Beer Offline map Google map Specialist beer shop, where you can even pick up a well-priced bottle of Westvleteren. ( 050 34 37 30; Philipstockstraat 7; 10am-6pm) 35 Rombaux Music Offline map Google map Here since 1920, this large and extremely classy family-run music shop specialises in classical music, jazz, world music, folk and Flemish music, and is the kind of place where you can browse for hours.


pages: 297 words: 69,467

Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Albert Einstein, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, elephant in my pajamas, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Jane Jacobs, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

erupt (or explode) violently exact same To be sure, “exact same” is redundant. To be sure, I still say it and write it. fall down What are you going to do, fall up? fellow countryman fetch back To fetch something is not merely to go get it but to go get it and return with it to the starting place. Ask a dog. few in number fiction novel Appalling. A novel is a work of fiction. That’s why it’s called a novel. That said, “nonfiction novel” is not the oxymoron it might at first seem. The term refers to the genre pioneered—though not, as is occasionally averred, invented—by Truman Capote with In Cold Blood, that of the work of nonfiction written novelistically. I once—and, happily, to date, only once—encountered the term “prose novel,” which is as brain-clonking a redundancy as “fiction novel” but which I eventually realized was meant as a retronym:*1 In a world full of graphic novels, the user of the term had apparently decided, one must identify a work of fiction containing a hundred thousand words, give or take, but lacking pictures as a “prose novel.”


How to Write Like Tolstoy: A Journey Into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers by Richard Cohen

Anton Chekhov, Bonfire of the Vanities, colonial rule, Honoré de Balzac, index card, Joan Didion, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan, University of East Anglia

Graham Greene begins The End of the Affair (1951) with almost an apology: “A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.” An additional burden is the thought of all those weightlifters who have gone before you. Early in his novel The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje argues: “Many books open with an author’s assurance of order. One slipped into their waters with a silent paddle….But [unlike works of nonfiction] novels commenced with hesitation or chaos. Readers were never fully in balance. A door a lock a weir opened and they rushed through, one hand holding a gunnel, the other a hat.” Yet novels can begin slowly—from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890 to Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things (1997), we get openings all about the weather.*1 Equally, nonfiction books can start with a bang or a memorable phrase—take the opening page of Isadora Duncan’s autobiography, which contains the sentences “My first memory is of a fire.


pages: 347 words: 90,234

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind

airport security, Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Columbine, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Mark Zuckerberg, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, out of africa, personalized medicine, publish or perish, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, working poor, Year of Magical Thinking

New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani laments, “We are daily assaulted by books, movies and television docudramas that hopscotch back and forth between the realms of history and fiction, reality and virtual reality, with impunity.” - Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted: memoir of the author’s years of hospitalization for mental illness. 1994 The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) counts 534 degree-conferring creative writing programs; sixty-four offer a Master of Fine Arts. - John Berendt, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: Edmund White calls this true-crime story “the best nonfiction novel since ‘In Cold Blood’ and a lot more entertaining”; it remains on the New York Times best-seller list for four years; tour buses descend on Savannah. - More memoirs of troubled girlhood: Lucy Grealy, 31, explores “the deep bottomless grief . . . called ugliness,” in Autobiography of a Face; Elizabeth Wurtzel, 26, arrives on the scene with Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America. - Sherwin Nuland’s How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter, a study informed by the author’s family experiences, wins the National Book Award for nonfiction


pages: 590 words: 153,208

Wealth and Poverty: A New Edition for the Twenty-First Century by George Gilder

"Robert Solow", affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, cleantech, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, Gunnar Myrdal, Home mortgage interest deduction, Howard Zinn, income inequality, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, medical malpractice, minimum wage unemployment, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, non-fiction novel, North Sea oil, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, price stability, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, skunkworks, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, volatility arbitrage, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population, yield curve, zero-sum game

But one of my major themes is the grave distortions of view that issue from the sociological practice of discussing society chiefly in segments to be studied separately and statistically: the poor, the rich, women, men, business, and labor. This book sprang from an earlier work of mine, Visible Man, an essentially sociological venture that undertook to understand poverty by studying the poor. Visible Man became a nonfiction novel based on interviews with hundreds of poor people in Albany, New York, and Greenville, South Carolina. I learned much from these researches about the devastating impact of the programs of liberalism on the poor. But perhaps the most important lesson I learned was the inadequacy of any theory of poverty that did not embody a theory of wealth. So Wealth & Poverty began with the title The Pursuit of Poverty and ended as an analysis of the roots of economic growth.


pages: 598 words: 183,531

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution - 25th Anniversary Edition by Steven Levy

air freight, Apple II, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, computer age, computer vision, corporate governance, Donald Knuth, El Camino Real, game design, Hacker Ethic, hacker house, Haight Ashbury, John Conway, John Markoff, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, Paul Graham, popular electronics, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, software patent, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Hackers Conference, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

The kind of tension I saw between hackers and bosses in Sierra On-Line has largely been resolved, not just at start-up companies but bigger ones like Google, as the hacker mentality has been incorporated as a value within the firm. (Ken Williams, by the way, has left the business after Sierra was snapped up by a conglomerate. “Both Roberta and I have completely ‘dropped out’ of the game business, or even playing games,” he writes in an email. A sailing enthusiast, he’s written three books on his cruising adventures, and Roberta is working on a nonfiction novel about the Irish immigration.) A new generation of hackers has emerged, techies who don’t see business as an enemy but the means through which their ideas and innovations can find the broadest audience. Take Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has drawn four hundred million users to share their personal lives online. At twenty-five, he has proven a master at the black art of business development—deliberately and purposefully opening his site to advertisers and marketers.


pages: 579 words: 183,063

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss

23andMe, A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bayesian statistics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, corporate social responsibility, cryptocurrency, David Heinemeier Hansson, dematerialisation, don't be evil, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, family office, fear of failure, Gary Taubes, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Google Hangouts, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, helicopter parent, high net worth, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, income inequality, index fund, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kevin Kelly, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Naomi Klein, non-fiction novel, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, TaskRabbit, Tesla Model S, too big to fail, Turing machine, uber lyft, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

Two books that have greatly influenced my life are The Double Helix by James D. Watson and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. What fascinates me about these books is how they revolutionized the telling of scientific stories while themselves breaking new scientific ground in the elucidation of the secret of life. Read these two books and you will get a great answer to a question that has baffled mankind for millions of years: What is life? Watson’s “nonfiction novel” was an astonishing literary achievement, and it was about the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century. Dawkins’ “stranger-than-fiction” argument turned evolutionary biology on its head and was written like a great detective story. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? SleepPhones. It’s a headband that goes over your eyes and ears and that has inside two ultraflat earphones so you can listen to books as you fall asleep.


pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, assortative mating, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

Today bookstores face the same sort of ill-formed problem: how should the following categories be cross-organized: bestsellers, science fiction, horror, garden, biography, novels, collections, sports, illustrated books? If horror is a genus of fiction, then true tales of horror present a problem. Must all novels be fiction? Then the bookseller cannot honor Truman Capote's own description of In Cold Blood (1965) as a nonfiction novel, but the book doesn't sit comfortably amid either the biographies or the history books. In what section of the bookstore should the book you are reading be shelved? Obviously there is no one Right Way to categorize books — nominal essences are all we will ever find in this domain. But many naturalists were convinced on general principles that there were real essences to be found among the categories of their Natural System of living things.


The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh

Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, carbon footprint, Donald Trump, double helix, Fellow of the Royal Society, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, megacity, Naomi Klein, non-fiction novel, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban planning

I have come to recognize that the challenges that climate change poses for the contemporary writer, although specific in some respects, are also products of something broader and older; that they derive ultimately from the grid of literary forms and conventions that came to shape the narrative imagination in precisely that period when the accumulation of carbon in the atmosphere was rewriting the destiny of the earth. 3 That climate change casts a much smaller shadow within the landscape of literary fiction than it does even in the public arena is not hard to establish. To see that this is so we need only glance through the pages of a few highly regarded literary journals and book reviews, for example, the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Literary Journal and the New York Times Review of Books. When the subject of climate change appears in these publications, it is almost always in relation to non-fiction; novels and short stories are very rarely to be glimpsed within this horizon. Indeed, it could even be said that fiction that deals with climate change is almost by definition not of the kind that is taken seriously by serious literary journals: the mere mention of the subject is often enough to relegate a novel or a short story to the genre of science fiction. It is as though in the literary imagination climate change were somehow akin to extraterrestrials or interplanetary travel.


pages: 168 words: 9,044

You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing by John Scalzi

non-fiction novel, Occam's razor, place-making, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, zero-sum game

The tolerance for what one wants to be the truth at the expense of genuine truth is why we currently have a government which is of the opinion that truth looks exactly like a urinal. If you're going to write fiction, call it fiction, for Christ's sake. People love romans a clef just as much as actual memoirs; indeed, they feel naughtier because you know the sex scenes are going to be better written. Writing non-fiction novels only works when you are Truman Capote, or intermittently if you're Tom Wolfe. I may be going out on a limb here, not having read him and all, but I'm guessing Mr. Frey is in fact neither of them. CHAPTER FOUR: Science Fiction, or, Don't Skip This Chapter, You Damned Writing Snobs Yes, yes, yes. I know. Science fiction isn't real literature. That label gets reserved for the "literary fiction" genre, in which people hang about in their small towns and/or Brooklyn, collecting tiny experiential moments like coupons until they have enough to redeem for the Quiet Moment of Clarity just before the end of the story.


pages: 893 words: 282,706