l's Reviews > The New Kings of Nonfiction

The New Kings of Nonfiction by Ira Glass
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Feb 08, 09

Read in February, 2009

Go ahead and try to read Ira Glass' intro and not become instantly entranced and intrigued in the essays that are to follow -- you won't be able to. If you like Ira Glass, you will want to know what kind of writing it takes for him to keep your piece in his desk for years, which is what he did to compile these stories. I really liked the intro because it made me want to become a better reader, a better writer, and it made me really relieved that I backed out of journalism school at the last minute. I have always believed that the best kind of journalism is heavily flavored with the voice of the writer. God, please -- bring yourself in! I got so sick of writing like a monkey in journalism 101 -- and actually a little terrified to waver outside the strict rules -- that writing became passionless for me during this time. Anyway, I felt ashamed or something for thinking this. Like, I was being egocentric by preferring to include myself in my pieces. So it was so nice to have it confirmed by Ira Glass. "It's an affront to (some journalists) when a reporter tries to amuse himself and his audience. I say phooey to that. This book says phooey to that."

So then, the essays are awesome. Some I had read before but are so good I was happy to read them again. My favorites -- "Among the Thugs," in which a writer becomes entangled in the world of rioting British football fans and is honest in a way I have never experienced in journalism before. The Klosterman essay was obviously completely entertaining. The best was probably "Host," an essay by David Foster Wallace about a shock jock and his "Stimulating Talk Radio" show (so! interesting! and perfectly crafted!), but I equally loved Mark Bowden's essay about Saddam Hussein, which is about a Saddam Hussein you don't even sort of know.

I was sad when this book was over. Really, really, sad. I hope that Ira Glass goes through his desk drawers again sometime soon.
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