Monday, February 7, 2011


A new feature will debut here at Son of Bold Venture later today: Five for Writing.

In it, I’ll email five questions to a great writer about his or her work and how they do it. I hope to include writers of all stripes: novelists, journalists, fabulists, and essayists, moralists and monsters. Some of them will be friends of mine; some of them will be strangers to all of us. I think that doing the interview by email will allow each writer to do what he or she does best. Keeping it to five questions, I hope, will keep things fresh and lively.

Also, having five questions means I can call it Five for Writing, betraying my semi-secret affection for hockey, and its major penalties for fisticuffs especially.

Anyway, if you have any particular writers you’d like to see in this space—or any particular questions you’d like to have answered, about process and prizes, about work done and undone—I’m always open to suggestions by email or in the comments below.

This afternoon, I’ll post the first in what I hope will prove an enduring and thought-provoking series. A two-time Pulitzer prize winner delivered more than I ever dreamed. He has set the bar—including the soon-to-be-immortal line, “I’d live like an assassin.”

Stay tuned. And thanks, as always, for reading.


  1. Buzz Bissinger. Absurdely talented writer and always a great interview.

  2. SL Price
    Gary Smith
    Whitlock? Nah!

  3. From newspapers:

  4. C.J. Chivers. The guy is an animal, and I mean that in the best way possible.

  5. David Von Drehle.

    Tim Zimmerman.

  6. Ben Mezrich would be interesting.

  7. Michael Paterniti
    Matthew Klam
    J.R. Moehringer
    ...and, um, a writer to be named later

  8. Pierce
    Portis - if you could get him to talk

    - Scott III

  9. I've seen plenty of interviews about a writer's best habits and best advice. But, I'd love to hear about the worst advice they've ever had, or their worst habits. I think most of us know what we should do, but we have trouble articulating and avoiding what we shouldn't.

  10. Taibbi. Matt Taibbi. As good as it gets, and yet, people fucking go, "blah blah blah BUT HE TURNS ME OFF WITH HIS CUSSING AND CALLING PEOPLE ASSHOLES!"

  11. 1. Snooki
    2. Paraguay's top soccer writer

  12. Michael Lewis (please)
    Wright Thompson
    Roger Ebert
    John McPhee
    Chuck Klosterman

  13. David Remnick
    Dexter Filkins
    Second CJ Chivers
    Mark Bowden
    William Langewiesche
    I'd recommend Gay Talese, but if there's one guy who's done a ton of interviews about how he works, it's Gay Talese.

  14. Thanks for the suggestions, everybody. They're a dream list. Keep 'em coming.

    I'm proud to report that two of the writers named have already agreed and received their questions.

    Andrew got Weingarten the same day. Talk about service!

  15. My No. 1 suggestion: Nick Hornby

    A shotgun blast of others to consider for your to-do list:
    Ian McEwan
    Joe McGinniss
    Simon Winchester
    Erik Larson
    David Sedaris
    Pat Conroy
    Michael Chabon
    John Barry
    John Berendt
    Dave Maraniss
    Chuck Palahniuk
    Bill Buford

  16. I'd like to second a few of the ones listed after mine. Maybe, if we keep up the same rate, then I can get all of the writers I list granted:

    C.J. Chivers
    Dexter Filkins
    David Von Drehle (though he recently gave some great comments on and
    Gary Smith

    And I'll add two more to my fantasy writing team: Rick Bragg and Dan Barry

  17. Hey jonathanjoyce... Ben Mezrich said yes! Great suggestion. Now to come up with some good questions.

  18. Your colleague Chiarella would be excellent. And to be Canadian about it, Brunt. And maybe your boy Arthur too...

  19. Any and all of your Esquire colleagues, especially Tom Junod, Scott Raab and Tom Chiarella. Roger Ebert, which other folks have recommended. Scott Price and Gary Smith, also previously mentioned. Filkins, too.

    Would love to hear thoughts from Ian Frazier, Cormac McCarthy and Elizabeth Gilbert (before EPL, her reporting and writing was fierce). Oh, and Dave Eggers.

    Great series already, Chris.

  20. Right on re Mezrich. Too late to suggest questions, but I'd be interested in hearing how he goes about fictionalizing dialogue and scripting scenes into the stories he tells. In some respects it has to be a harder than fiction as he has to be tethered to the facts of the real life story.

    If Ben reads this, sorry for the term 'fictionalization'. I know he has a better term to describe his genre.

  21. Andrew Corsello, from GQ. Novelist-journalist-critic Walter Kirn. Tom Bissell.

  22. Anybody here interested in WOMEN? I mean, as nonfiction writers? I am. Watch as I manage to make a list without using the words Susan and/or Orlean...
    1. Jennifer Senior
    2. Vanessa Grigoriadis
    3. Anne Hull
    4. Margaret Talbot
    5. Pamela Colloff
    6. Sally Jenkins
    7. Rebecca Skloot
    8. Rebecca Mead
    9. Lane DeGregory
    10. Isabel Wilkerson
    and so on, and so on ...
    from Hank Stuever

  23. Thanks much, Chris -- Wright Thompson three days after asking. That was a fantastic read. His profile of Ernie Adams might be the best thing I've read about pro football in years.

  24. Pierce.
    Gare Joyce
    Bruce Arthur
    Mike Vaccaro
    Wayne Coffey

  25. Looks like you've got enough great names to keep you busy for a while, Chris.

    I dig the props for Bruce Arthur, who I'll guess not nearly enough of us Yanks know about. I'd love to read his thoughts on his Acron Eger story, which reminded me of Wright's Tony Harris E-Ticket or your own "The Man in the Ice":

  26. 1.Ben Montgomery
    2.T Lake
    3.Michael Kruse
    4.John Barry
    5.Dan Barry
    6.Lane DeGregory
    7.Skip Hollandsworth
    8.Charlie Pierce
    9.Tom Junod
    10.Diane Tennant
    11.Tommy Tomilson

  27. Hockey? Canada? Would love to see words from Dave Bidini... who of course wrote a solid book about writing.

    I also like quite a bit the earlier mention of David Von Drehle and S.L. Price.

  28. I'll throw another name into the mix - Thom Jones, writer of some of my favourite short fiction of all time.

  29. Jim Harrison.

    Dan Wetzel.

    What a great fucking blog this is.