I think most journalists are pretty lazy, number one. A little lazy and also they’re spoon-fed information, such as the weapons of mass destruction back in 2003….you have these people who create a package of news, develop it as a story line, a scenario, and they find, as Mailer once said about the press, that they’re like a donkey. You have to feed the donkey. The donkey every day has to eat. So [special interests] throw information at this damn animal that eats everything. Tin cans, garbage. – Gay Talese
I’ve just finished Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, his exhaustive journalist book covering the execution of Gary Gilmore in 1977. Mailer, the man who brawled with actors over their credibility and the only white journalist allowed into Muhammad Ali’s training camps, took on unglamourous topics, researched and edited them thoroughly over many years and published the complete stories without thought for the casual reader.
Inherent Vice – Thomas Pynchon
A detective story set in California in the late 1960s with as stoned P.I. Doc Sportello investigates a missing billionaire and the murder of his bodyguard. Its cheesy, charming and for Pynchon pretty readable.
Unforgiveable Blackness – Geoffrey C. Ward
The story of Jack Johnson, the first Black Heavyweight champion of the world in an era of overt racism is an excellent historical study of Johnson’s pursuit of the title and the contrversy caused by his relationships with white women in turn of the century America.
Hands of Stone by Christian Guidice
A biography of Roberto Duran. Excellent details of the fights of Duran’s great career but lacking real insight into what made him tick. The lack of amateur psychology could be a credit but with such an emotional and angry boxer, some analysis would work.
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano
I didn’t know for a long while. A short ramble through the dreams of a dying priest. Hard to follow what is happening for a while but then suddenly, as the story races through Europe, Pinochet and his Generals and the ever-present poet Neruda, only the lack of sleep prevents you from finishing it on my sofa.
Next on the bedside table, on the bus or train..
Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden – the hunt for Pablo Escobar
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges
The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
The Savage Mind by Levi Strauss
The Human Stain by Philip Roth