It was the mid-’60s and I was in college and a guy I had never heard of—an alumnus of my college [Washington and Lee University] as it happened—was coming to speak. He was a journalist from New York. I was mildly interested as I had some writing aspirations, and almost without thinking I showed up to hear what he had to say.
It was Tom Wolfe and he was there to talk about “The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.” Wow! It was life-changing because his writing was so new, so different, so not like anything else journalistic! And so was he.
What he had done was not that hard to understand. He had simply taken the trouble to report very, very deeply and to pay sympathetic, embracing attention to what he was seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, touching, and apprehending. And then writing it down as it looked, sounded, smelled, felt, and meant.
His book was a sumptuous assortment of wonderful pieces that were all, in their way, both extra-true and extra-revealing. For me, it was a revelation that there was something out there called New Journalism.