I’ve been thinking about Mike Sager’s story, “The Devil and John Holmes,” for a long time. I first read his chronicle of the famous porn star and the Wonderland murders when it came out in 1989; I was 10 years old. It is a testament to the story’s vividness that, when I picked it up years later, so much of it–entire scenes and lines of dialogue–had stuck with me. (It’s not surprising that parts of the story ended up in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. “There was this great Rolling Stone article,” Anderson said on his DVD commentary, “and I remember the description of this guy Eddie Nash in Speedos and the sheen of sweat on his body.”)

Some of the remarkable detail in the Rolling Stone piece comes from extensive interviews Sager did with two women in Holmes’s life: his first wife, Sharon, and Dawn Schiller, a teenager he had a relationship with and prostituted to support his drug habit. Schiller, who is now 53 and a graduate student at Eastern Oregon University, says the piece still holds up.

“The story is in alignment with what I lived,” she said in a recent telephone interview. “I think [Sager] did a really … Read More

No wonder Jill Lepore describes herself as a "code-switcher." She's both a prize-winning professor of history at Harvard University and a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine. Her most recent book, "Book of Ages:… Read more

Recommended Reading

Bringing creativity to complex issues: The Washington Post, New Republic and CIR

October 3, 2014

3 (Stories) for 2 (Days): Storyboard's weekend picks

Here's a highly curated list for you. Robert Atwan, the editor of the "Best American Essays" series, has selected for the Publishers Weekly website his top 10 essays since 1950. Atwan is careful to point out… Read more

Editor's Note: Welcome to the newest installment of "Writing the Book," an occasional Storyboard feature in which journalists turned authors discuss the challenges of creating their work. In this essay, freelancer and 2013 Nieman affiliate… Read more

Almost anyone who loves narrative journalism or music or social experiments or who simply believes that children are wiser than adults knows the Gene Weingarten story “Pearls Before Breakfast.” In this Washington Post magazine … Read more

If you’ve read Meghan Daum’s terrific essay in the Sept. 29 New Yorker on her decision to remain childless (one of Storyboard’s most recent weekend picks), you’ll want to take … Read more

Here are Storyboard’s three picks for your reading, viewing and dancing pleasure this weekend: In an essay entitled “Difference Maker: The childless, the parentless, and the Central Sadness,” Meghan Daum writes in the … Read more

Finding the Tribe

September 11, 2014

After a false start in the mid-2000s, podcasts are making a comeback. Can journalists find the business models to make them viable?

First Listen

September 11, 2014

“Strangers” Host/Producer: Lea Thau Through conversations about life and death, love and heartbreak, and everything in between, people share the most intimate stories about their lives. Read more

Welcome to the second session of our discussion with narrative instructors about the stories they’re assigning students this fall. If you missed Monday’s recommendations from Alex Kotlowitz, Doug Foster and Kelley Benham French, you can … Read more

As the academic year gets underway, we decided to ask some top narrative journalism instructors what they’re assigning their students to study this semester and why. There are some tried-and-true favorites, certainly. You might expect … Read more

It’s time for Storyboard’s three weekend picks. Here they are: In honor of Roger Federer’s gritty performance in Thursday’s U.S. Open quarterfinal, it seems fitting to re-read David Foster Wallace’s 2006 essay … Read more