New Journalism2 - New Journalism: Too Much to Handle?...

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New Journalism: Too Much to Handle? Literary journalism (i.e. literature of reality) “…should have the texture, rhythm, the pacing, the coloring, and the drama of a work of art, yet it should hold to the standard of verifiable truth.” Gay Talese described this art form, New Journalism as it later became coined by Pete Hamill in 1965 (Beuttler 5) or possibly Tom Wolfe in 1973 (Russello). This phrase is used today to describe the way in which Truman Capote wrote his “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood . Along with a new type of journalism came a heavy crown for those who bore it. Proponents of New Journalism, such as Capote, say that it is simply another way of telling the facts, while critics would reply that fiction techniques lead to fiction. In Cold Blood faced questions about its factual accuracy, largely due to the fact that it was written in a New Journalistic fashion. Nonetheless, Truman Capote used a new form of reporting that had a lasting effect on the way writers wrote, and readers read. The point of New Journalism is to incorporate reporting with literary techniques used in fictional novels. The theory is that, if done correctly, the reader will walk away entertained as well as educated. It is not only used in In Cold Blood , but also about Vietnam by Michael Herr and John Sack, Martin Luther King’s funeral by Garry Wills, the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago by Sack and novelists Terry Southern, Jean Genet, and William S. Burroughs (Beuttler 7). In fact, Truman Capote was not even the first to use this form of writing. “There are earlier antecedents; George Orwell, for example, who…combined the sort of fictionalized account with fact reporting in ‘Homage to Catalonia’ and ‘Down and Out in Paris and London,’ though Rebecca West
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and Truman Capote should also be mentioned for utilizing these techniques” (Russello). In Cold Blood is a nonfiction work, written in the third person omniscient style. Truman Capote researched the murders of a family, the Clutters, for five years and published the book after the two criminals, Dick and Perry, were hanged. It is said that Capote took over 6,000 pages of notes during his interviews with the criminals, the citizens of Holcomb, Kansas, and neighboring communities. After these countless interviews, 5 years, and 6,000 pages of notes, Capote holds that the facts represented in his book are completely nonfiction and that he didn’t fabricate a single thing. This claim may be a little hard to swallow. Truth, in itself, is a hard thing to tell even if one is trying to recall something he/she experienced him/herself. Of course, if you want to verify something you should check the sources. Capote’s main sources, two people whom he could not have gotten close to writing this book without, were Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith. Not only does the credibility of two killers come into question, but their interviews were made after they were found, tried, and convicted. Being convicted and sentenced to death would sure bring about a new set of priorities and
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New Journalism2 - New Journalism: Too Much to Handle?...

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