Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Read "The Best American Crime Reporting 2009"

A journalist by trade, I'm always interested in quality reporting of the kind that's not newspaper-stiff and that actually makes me want to read past the lead. Guest editor Jeffrey Toobin's "The Best American Crime Reporting 2009" ( Ecco, 2009) is that kind of reporting: in-depth, solid journalism that reads like an actual story as opposed to a police report. If I ever wind up teaching college courses in creative nonfiction writing, this is the stuff you can expect to find on my required reading list.

Standouts in this year's edition -- the ongoing series is co-edited by Otto Penzler and Thomas H. Cook -- include Mark Boal's "Everyone Will Remember Me as Some Sort of Monster" (from Rolling Stone) and David Grann's "True Crime" (from The New Yorker). You may recognize Boal as the writer of what was, in my opinion, the best film last year, "The Hurt Locker," for which he is rightly nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Original Screenplay. Grann is probably best know of late for his bestselling book "The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon" (Doubleday, 2009).

Boal's piece in the book is a haunting profile of a teenager who shot up a mall in Nebraska, and Grann's piece documents a stranger-than-fiction case of a man who got away with murder in Poland only to get caught years later after writing a "fictional" book about it. These pieces are great, but so are the rest featured in the book. Check it out.

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