Will Roberts


The New New Magic Writing Machines: Trouble Brews in the Concoction of Fiction, Faction and Fact.



As Marc Weingarten said, in The Gang That Wouldn’t Write Straight, ‘The first rule of what came to be known as New Journalism was that the old rules didn’t apply.’ Casting aside the conventionalities of standard newspaper journalism, Tom Wolfe and his budding literary peers hoped to capture the zeitgeist of the 60s and 70s by using literary, novelistic techniques that would elevate the station of journalism forever: ‘New Journalism can no longer be ignored in an artistic sense,’ he grandiosely proclaimed.

Inspired by Robert S. Boynton’s New New Journalism; Conversations with America’s best non-fiction writers and their craft, I have set out to discover how and if non-fiction novels have changed since Wolfe’s polemical doctrine and what implications this has for contemporary readers.

Using a cluster of American non-fiction novels that were published within a few of years of each other in the mid-90s, I am undertaking a close textual analysis, looking at rhetoric, narrative, genre and myth making, in a bid to show that rather than bringing us closer to the Truth, non-fiction novelists – and perhaps the publishing industry at large – pander to consumer and commercial expectations, use stereotypes and over-rely on novelistic techniques, thus denying their readers a clear and true sense of the events they are reporting on.