by Whet Moser
A new collection of literary journalism edited by Ira Glass, The New Kings of Nonfiction, comes out in October. The authors he anthologizes include Susan Orlean, Michael Lewis, and David Foster Wallace, as well as longtime Reader contributor Lee Sandlin. His essay "Losing the War," which I previously wrote about here and which appeared (in greatly abridged form) on This American Life, first appeared in two parts in Chicago Reader, on March 7 and 14, 1997.
Booklist says of the book's finds, "The most rewarding selection is Lee Sandlin's 'Losing the War,' . . . in which [Sandlin] forces readers to acknowledge all over again what most World War II books and films try to make us forget: what an absolutely miserable, pointless, blundering, screaming bloody hell it was."
It'll be interesting to see how The New Kings of Nonfiction compares to my favorite literary journalism anthology, Literary Journalism. There are more comprehensive ones (The Art of Fact), more famous ones (The New Journalism), and more attractive ones (pretty much any book ever made), but for my money, that one's the best.
While we're at it, here's my own "anthology" of favorite nonfiction pieces [that I could find on the Internet on a busy day without much trouble]:
"The Mountains of Pi" by Richard Preston
"Meet the Shaggs" by Susan Orlean
"Guarding Sing Sing" by Ted Conover
"The Man Who Disappeared" by Ken Auletta
"The Shipbreakers" by William Langewiesche
"My Favorite Teacher" by Robert Kurson
"The Ketchup Conundrum" by Malcom Gladwell
"Into Thin Air" by John Krakauer