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Howard BlumDescribe your latest project.
Just after midnight on October 1, 1910, a series of explosions rocked the Los Angeles Times building. The building was destroyed, and 21 people were killed. Who did it? And why?
It was "the crime of the century," and the lives of three celebrated men intersect in its aftermath. William J. Burns, the American Sherlock Holmes, Clarence Darrow, the legendary populist attorney, and D. W. Griffith, the pioneering film director, all become involved in the mystery surrounding the bombing. And in the process, these three men (along with the women in their lives) struggle through their own emotional traumas as they help solve a great mystery — and help to transform America and the times in which they live.
Yet this true story is not just about the past. This account of one of the first acts of domestic terrorism in the nation's history continues to resonate. Warrantless wiretapping, suspension of habeas corpus, secret prisons, coerced confessions — many of the issues first raised in the response to "the crime of the century" are still very much part of the national debate as we face a new era of terrorism.
Coming out of graduate school at Stanford in the '70s, I was hired by the Village Voice, an alternative weekly newspaper in Greenwich Village. To be young in New York, to be armed with a Working Press Card that gave you access to everything that was happening in the city, to hang out all day (and many nights) in an office with lots of bright and quirky writers — well, it just doesn't get any better than that. It was our Paris. (Of course, it all came to an end after four years when I wrote a book that got some attention, and I put on a tie and went to work for The New York Times.)
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
How do you relax?
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
Why do you write?
Talk about your vision of the ideal life.
Do you read blogs? What are some of your favorites?
I also check out Lyrics.com. I like to discuss with my teenage kids the music they're listening to, and this gives me a head start. No better way of bonding than debating, for example, just what precisely Vampire Weekend means in "Oxford Comma" (which is a truly smart and wonderful song).
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Books I've Given to Girlfriends:
A Bend in the River by V. S. Naipaul
Daniel Martin by John Fowles
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer
The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Why did I give these five books? Well, she wanted to be a writer. Everything you need to know about how to tell a story can, I believe, be learned from this reading list.
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Howard Blum is the author of eight previous books, including the national bestsellers Wanted!, The Brigade, and Gangland. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Blum was also a reporter at the New York Times, where he won numerous journalism awards and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting.