Litkicks Message Board Archive

New Journalism

Posted to WritersAndGenres

While Tom Wolfe has become known of late as a novelist and New York dandy, and Hunter Thompson has created his own legend as Doctor of Gonzo Journalism, both were classified in the early 1960s under the heading New Journalism, a style of reporting in which the writer himself, or at least his/her subjective impressions, becomes an essential part of the story. It was a combination of fiction writers' tricks with straight news reporting.

Wolfe became known for feature stories on topics such as race car driver Junior Johnson. In his 1973 book, The New Journalism, he writes about the evolution of his style. The book includes a selection of new journalism pieces by writers including Truman Capote (In Cold Blood), Joan Didion (Slouching Towards Bethlehem), Norman Mailer (The Armies of the Night), George Plimpton (Paper Lion), Thompson (Hell's Angels), and others.

It seems to me that as time went on, Wolfe, in his Jimminy Cricket suit, sought to maintain his distance from his subjects. (Ken Kesey tells a story about Wolfe's displeasure at getting day-glo paint on his white suit.) Thompson on the other hand became totally immersed, whether riding with the Angels or "firing wildly into the cactus from a car full of drugs."