“Hood Rat”, New Journalism, and what I want to do

I’m always hunting for my voice. For new ways to tell the stories I want to tell.

Recently, found this book “Hood Rat” at the Holborn Library. It’s based on over 100-hours of interviews Guardian journalist Gavin Knight conducted while embedded with anti-gang units in some of the UK’s big cities.

According to the jacket, the story is “researched on the front line and told like a thriller” — written in the present tense, third-person POV, the journalist himself invisible from the story.

There is something here that relates to what I am seeking to do: topical issue, examined systemically, based on interviews. From one review: “In its approach and style, Gavin Knight’s Hood Rat follows the New Journalism that revolutionised the form in the 1960s…His experience crosses two worlds: he does no report simply on the gangs, but also on those entrusted with the powers for bring about justice and change.”

I twigged on New Journalism, not knowing exactly what is was — it’s this: ’60s and 70s journalistic style bringing a literary style to reporting, for example Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

New Journalism reminds me of what I’ve read about Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, meant to be an article before it became a non-fiction novel full of James Agee’s lyrical overwrought prose, and other work I’ve read about in Robert Coles’s Doing Documentary Work. 

But my thoughts are still coalescing. It’s enough to say that the research work behind “Hood Rat”, it’s fictionalized style, and ecological aim all resonate with me artistically. There is a curiosity here, and a desire to tell stories about the world as it is (especially stories that newspaper and broadcast media either ignore or are unable to report on because of their more abbreviated form) that appeals to me.

The hunt continues.








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