Non-fiction is a huge genre ranging from biographies to descriptions of historical events. But within this genre is a niche known as literary journalism. In short, it is long-term journalism in the form of a novel. He therefore presents his subjects as characters, and some even claim (due to his style and prose) that he borders on fiction.
Also called creative nonfiction, authors use literary techniques to create factually accurate narratives. And since literary journalism follows the real stories of real people, the stories are compelling. Plus, the books are great and anyone who believes otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
Below are some of our favorite works of literary journalism. Go ahead, choose one and learn something new! After all, knowledge is power.
Essential works of creative non-fiction
From the publisher: Wallace’s stories present a world where the strange and the mundane intertwine and where hideous men appear in many guises. Among the stories are “The Depressed Person,” a dazzling and darkly humorous portrayal of a woman’s mental state; “Adult World,” which reveals a woman’s anguished consideration of her confused sexual relationship with her husband; and “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” a dark and hilarious series of imaginary interviews with men about their relationships with women. Wallace loves observation from left field, extracting the absurd, the surprising and the illuminating from every situation. This collection will delight DFW fans and is the perfect introduction for new readers.
Price: $10.87 (usually $16.00)
From the publisher: The first work of non-fiction by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our time, Joan Didion Advance to Bethlehem remains, decades after its first publication, the essential portrait of America―and particularly of California―in the sixties. It focuses on subjects such as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, having grown up in California, brooding over the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room and, in particular, the essence of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, the heart of the counterculture.
Price: $10.20 (usually $15)
From the publisher: It was the storm of the century, with waves over a hundred feet high, a storm created by a combination of factors so rare that meteorologists considered it “the perfect storm”. In a book that has become a classic, Sebastian Junger explores the history of the fishing industry, the science of storms, and the heartfelt stories of people whose lives have been impacted by the storm. The Perfect Storm is a real-life thriller that leaves us feeling helplessly caught in the grip of a force of nature beyond our comprehension or control.
Price: $13.44 (usually $15.95)
From the publisher: by Tom Wolfe The Kool-Aid Electric Acid Test ushered in an era of new journalism, called “an American classic” (Newsweek) that defines a generation. “An amazing book” (The New York Times book review) and a flawless portrait of Ken Kesey, his Merry Pranksters, LSD and the 1960s.
Price: $9.98 (usually $20)
From the publisher: Arguably the greatest book by America’s most heroically ambitious writer, The Executioner’s Song follows the short and wasted life of Gary Gilmore who rose to fame after robbing two men in 1976 and killing them in cold blood. After being tried and sentenced, he immediately insisted on being executed for his crime. To do this, he fought a system that seemed determined to keep him alive long after he had been sentenced to death. And this fight for the right to die is what made him famous. Mailer not only tells the story of Gilmore, but also of the men and women caught in the web of his life and drawn into his procession to the firing squad. All with a relentless authority, steely compassion, and restraint that evoke Gilmore’s arid landscape and harsh Utah theology. The Executioner’s Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest source of American loneliness and violence. It is an imposing achievement, impossible to put down, impossible to forget.
Price: $19.12 (usually $22.00)
From the publisher: In April 1992, a young man from a wealthy family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone in the wilderness north of Mount McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had donated $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the money in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless Came to Die is the unforgettable story of In nature. Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had traveled the West and the South West on a vision quest like those of his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert, he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all his money. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, with no money or possessions, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving an empty spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the cards away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and his sister, he disappeared into thin air.
Price: $9.34 (usually $14.96)
seven) Naked by David Sedaris
From the publisher: Welcome to the hilarious, weird, elegiac and outrageous world of David Sedaris. In Naked, Sedaris turns memoir mania on its ear, exploring the immensely rich terrain of his life, his family, and his unique worldview – a sensibility that is both acute and deeply charitable. A sour-tongued mother mimics her young son’s nervous mannerisms to death, much to the amusement of his teachers; a passage of Kerouackian wandering is undertaken (of course!) with a quadriplegic companion; a family reunites for a wedding in the face of impending death. Through it all is Sedaris’ unmistakable voice, arguably one of the freshest in American writing.
Price: $10.33 (usually $16.99)
From the publisher: The glass castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revealing look at a family that is both deeply dysfunctional and uniquely dynamic. When sober, Jeannette’s bright and charismatic father captured his children’s imaginations, teaching them physics, geology and how to embrace life without fear. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. His mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of family life and did not want the responsibility of raising a family. The children of the Walls have learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed and protected each other, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children thrived. The glass castle is truly amazing – a memoir steeped in the intense love of a special but faithful family.
Price: $9.59 (usually $17)
From the publisher: A lyrical, philosophical and often explicit exploration of personal suffering and the limits of vision and love, refracted through the color blue. With BluetsMaggie Nelson entered the pantheon of brilliant lyrical essayists.
Price: $12.99 (usually $16)
From the publisher: A gargantuan and heartbreaking comedy about the pursuit of happiness in America. Set in a halfway house for drug addicts and a tennis academy, and featuring the most screwed up family in recent fiction, infinity joke explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to dominate our lives; how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and what the pleasures we choose say who we are.
Price: $14.99 (usually $20)
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