In the summer of 1973, as I was preparing to enter my junior year in college, Harper & Row published “The New Journalism,” an anthology of articles and book excerpts by the likes of Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Hunter Thompson. Most important, it included a lengthy introduction by the man who was claiming to have largely invented the New Journalism, Tom Wolfe. I bought it the minute I saw it on the bookshelf. I had entered Boston University fully expecting to be a math major, only to discover I wasn’t very good at high-level mathematics. But I had become a voracious, intoxicated reader of magazines — it really was the golden age of magazine journalism! — and had decided that summer to switch to BU’s journalism school. Most young would-be journalists of that era wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein; I wanted to be Gay Talese or Tom Wolfe. To boil it down to its essence, the New Journalism was a term that meant using the techniques of a novelist to write nonfiction. Literary journa...

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