The New New Journalism
Robert S. Boynton
Ted Conover
Richard Ben Cramer
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Alex Kotlowitz
Jon Krakauer
Jane Kramer
William Langewiesche
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Richard Preston
Ron Rosenbaum
Eric Schlosser
Gay Talese
Calvin Trillin
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
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by Robert S. Boynton


           The first time Ted Conover was asked if he was a tramp he wasn't sure how to respond. The son of a successful lawyer, Conover had been jumping on and off trains for months, riding the rails as research for his college anthropology thesis. In fact, he had entered the life so completely that when another tramp tried to jump into his boxcar (a violation of hobo etiquette), Conover barely hesitated before stepping on the man's hand, sending him flying off the moving train. "I guess I am," he answered uneasily, all too aware of the vast expanse--economic, social, intellectual--separating him from his veteran-tramp interlocutor.
           It is this expanse that Conover has spent the last two decades exploring, in Rolling Nowhere (1984), Coyotes (1987), Whiteout (1991), and Newjack (2000). Together, they have cemented Conover's reputation as one of the finest participatory journalists of his generation.
           Those who have read only one or two of Conover's works might cubbyhole him as the bard of gritty, rough-and-tumble subcultures. While not untrue, the description is incomplete. It obscures Conover's real subject: the fine lines separating "us" from "them," and the elaborate rituals and markers--"parts of town, railroad tracks and boulevards, places in the heart and mind," he writes in Coyotes--that we have developed to bolster such distinctions.
           Without sacrificing the commitment of the early-twentieth-century muckrakers, or the gusto of the nineteenth-century literary adventurers in whose footsteps he walks, Conover combines "a sociologist's eye for detail with a novelist's sense of drama and compassion," as The New York Times's Michiko Kakutani wrote of Coyotes.
           Born in 1958 in Okinawa, Japan, where his father was stationed as a navy pilot, Conover was raised in an affluent Denver neighborhood. In 1980, after three years of studying anthropology at Amherst, he proposed to ride the rails for his senior thesis. Rolling Nowhere was published in 1984.
           In Coyotes Conover expanded on an insight he had gained writing Rolling Nowhere: "Mexican farm workers were the new American hoboes." For Coyotes, Conover crossed the U.S.-Mexican border four times, traveling with migrant workers through California, Arizona, Idaho, and Florida.
           Back in New York, Conover was rankled at a cocktail party when a friend introduced him as "Ted Conover, a writer who makes his living sleeping on the ground." The accuracy of the remark disturbed him and he began to wonder whether his participant-observer method could be used to write about people who weren't remote or poor. The result was, Whiteout: Lost in Aspen, in which he observed Aspen's celebrity culture from his perches as a local cab driver and reporter at the Aspen Times.
           In the early nineties, Conover asked the New York State Department of Correctional Services for permission to write an article for The New Yorker in which he would follow a guard through training. When his formal request was rejected, Conover applied for a job as a guard, carefully navigating the ethical and legal minefield of undercover reporting. Newjack won the 2000 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Conover was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and is at work on a book about roads.



BOOKS

The Fair Ophilia, Kindle Single, 2011
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The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today, Knopf, 2010
buy
buy
Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, Random House, 2000
buy
buy
Whiteout: Lost in Aspen, Random House, 1991
buy
buy
Coyotes: A Journey Through the Secret World of America’s Illegal Aliens, Vintage Books, 1987
buy
buy
Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails With America’s Hoboes, Viking, 1984
buy
buy

ARTICLES

"The Way of All Flesh Undercover in an industrial slaughterhouse", Harper's, May 2013

"A Snitch's Dilemma", The New York Times Magazine, June 29, 2012

"The Flesh Underneath: On 'Every Twelve Seconds'", The Nation, February 7, 2012

"Broan Road (1853-1932)", The Common, Issue #1 (Spring 2011)

"Noises Off", The New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2010

"Human Traffic", The Nation, December 16, 2009

"Slipping from Shangri-La", The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2009

"On the Books", The Nation, January 17, 2008

"Review of Lisa Margonelli's", The New York Times Book Review, March 11, 2007

"Capitalist Roaders", The New York Times Magazine, July 2, 2006

"The Checkpoint", The Atlantic Monthly, March 2006

"Backstage Man", The Columbia Journalism Review, January/February 2006

"The Wobbly Wheels of Justice", The New York Times Book Review, May 1, 2005

"My Life as a Guard", New York Times, Op-Ed page (about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq), May 7, 2004

"Force of Habit", The New York Times Book Review, April 9, 2004

"Ministering to the Enemy", New York Times Magazine, October 12, 2003

"Prisoners of Hate", New York Times, Op-Ed Page, (about the murder of defrocked priest John Geoghan), August 28, 2003

"In the Land of Guantánamo", New York Times Magazine, June 29, 2003

"Peru's Long Haul: Highway to Riches or Ruin?", National Geographic, June, 2003

"The Points That Prisoners Can Make", New York Times Magazine, July 21, 2002

"Behind Bars with 1,000 Male Convicts", New York Times Magazine, September 9, 2001

"Guided Tours of Hell", The New York Times Book Review, June 17, 2001

"Cry For Me", Gourmet, May, 2001

"Costa Azul: Gringos in Paradise", Winter, 2001Travel & Leisure Family, Winter, 2001

"A Soul That Won't Heal", The New York Times Book Review, October 15, 2000

"Guarding Sing Sing", New Yorker, April 3, 2000

"Shifting Sands in Saudi Arabia", Travel & Leisure, March, 2000

"Kadi Diallo's Trial", New York Times Magazine, January 9, 2000

"Flower Power", The New York Times Book Review, January 3, 1999

"Travel Book Roundup", The New York Times Book Review, May 31, 1998

"The Last Nanny", New York Times Magazine, November 30, 1997

"Winging It", Travel & Leisure, September, 1997

"Looking for Poppa's Alaska", Travel & Leisure, July, 1997

"Border Vigilantes", New York Times Magazine, May 11, 1997

"Truth & Betrayal in the Editing Room", New York Times Magazine, March 30, 1997

"Far Out", The New York Times Book Review, March 23, 1997

"Hacking", Wired, August, 1996

"Great Lakes", Travel & Leisure, August, 1996

"Out of the Blue", Travel & Leisure, February, 1996

"First You Fall", Travel & Leisure, March, 1995

"The Long Road to Timbuktu", Travel & Leisure, February, 1995

"Eve in the Garden of Aspen", New York Times Magazine, January 1, 1995

"Ski Buff", Rocky Mountain Magazine, Winter, 1995

"Hey, Mom, Can We Go Through Customs Again?", Rocky Mountain Magazine, Fall/Winter, 1994

"The World In Between: A journey along the Texas-Mexico border", Outside, December, 1994

"Skiing, Incorporated", Rocky Mountain Magazine, Fall/Winter, 1994

"Cowboy Christmas", Travel & Leisure, July, 1994

"Learning the Ropes", Travel & Leisure, July, 1994

"How Much Is That Marmot in the Window?", Rocky Mountain Magazine, Summer, 1994

"Christie Picks a Mother", New York Times Magazine, May 8, 1994

"United States of Asylum", New York Times Magazine, September 19, 1993

"Trucking Through the AIDS Belt", New Yorker, August 16, 1993, reprinted in Best American Essays 1994, ed. Kidder and Atwan (Houghton-Mifflin, 1995),

"Urethane Love", Outside, July, 1992

"Mysore Butt", Gentleman's Quarterly, December, 1991

"Domestic Diplomacy", House & Garden, March, 1991

"Falling for Zimbabwe", House & Garden, December, 1990

"They Fly Horses, Don't They?", Sunday Herald Colour Magazine, (Melbourne, Australia), October, 1989

"The Biggest Chill of All", Smart, July-August, 1989

"Nuclear Protest, By the Book", Outside, June, 1989

"Welcome to the Pit", California Magazine, February, 1989

"The Aspen Idea and the Fate of the Meadows", Aspen Magazine, Summer, 1988

"Latin America Face to Face", Washington Post, May 17, 1987

"A Cooperative Without Borders", Grassroots Development, Vol. 9, 1985

"Busing Without Tears", Denver Magazine, December, 1981

"Busted in Boomtown (hoboes)", Denver Magazine, November, 1981

"Finishing (the final hour of my coast-to-coast bike tour)", Bicycling, May, 1981

"A Morning With Pops (California hobo)", Amherst, Winter, 1981



Interviews and Reviews

Ted Conover talks with the NYT Magazine about the Murky World of the ‘Snitch’, July 2, 2012

Ted Conover talks with Sam Tanenhaus about his new book, The Routes of Man Inside the New York Times Book Review, February 21, 2010

Ted Conover talks about NYU's new Literary Reportage concentration,

Stray Questions for Ted Conover Papercuts: A Blog About Books, December 7, 2007

On Point, with Tom Ashbrook China Romances the Automobile, July 6, 2006

Lockdown: The Secret World of American Prisons A World of Possibilities, Mainstream Media Project, August, 2004

"On Being a Tour Guide," interview by Rita Radostitz, Etude: New Voices in Literary Nonfiction,, Autumn, 2003.

"The Connection,", National Public Radio, August 26, 2003

"Fresh Air with Terry Gross,", National Public Radio, July 3, 2003

"Here and Now,", National Public Radio, June 27, 2003.

"The Speakeasy with Dorian,", WFMU (Jersey City), January 7, 2002, and September 17, 2002

"Wasted Lives: An Interview with Ted Conover,", Blue Dog Press, Buffalo, New York, July 18, 2001

"Talk to Tara,", June, 2001

"The Savvy Traveler,", National Public Radio, October 6, 2000. Interview by Tony Kahn.

"Redband Bookbeat,", July 14, 2000

"The Diane Rehm Show,", National Public Radio, June 5, 2000

"Life As a Jailer: An Interview with Ted Conover,", by Julian Barnes, New York Times Book Review, May 14, 2000

"In the Belly of the Beast: Ted Conover,", by Norman Oder, Publisher's Weekly, May 8, 2000

"Fresh Air with Terry Gross,", National Public Radio, May 2, 2000



© Robert S. Boynton


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