Author Archive | Dan Wakefield

How an old white guy got woke

From a new piece published this month in Indianapolis Monthly:

Five years ago, a man called me and began with an apology. “I’m sure you get too many of these,” he said. “But I have to call you because I am writing a book on the Emmett Till murder trial, and you are the only one who was at the trial and is still alive.”

That has become my distinction.

The Supreme Court had outlawed school segregation in its 1954 decision Brown v. Board of Education, ruling that “separate but equal” education was not valid and no longer the law of the land. Everyone knew this was a major decision that would have a huge impact on American life. There was a feeling of national apprehension. What would happen? Would the South revolt? Would it be the start of another Civil War? It felt like the country was holding its breath.

Continue reading the longform piece at Indianapolis Monthly

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The Art of Hanging Out

My piece “The Art of Hanging Out” was originally published in The New York Times on July 21, 1968. The story is re-published at The Stacks Reader:

Both as a novelist (Run River, 1963) and as a reporter and essayist, Joan Didion is one of the least celebrated and most talented writers of my own generation (“Silent,” B.A.’s circa mid-1950’s). Her first collection of nonfiction writing, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, brings together some of the finest magazine pieces published by anyone in this country in recent years. Now that Truman Capote has pronounced that such work may achieve the nature of “art,” perhaps it is possible for this collection to be recognized as it should be, not as a better or worse example of what some people call “mere journalism,” but as a rich display of some of the best prose written today in this country.

Read the whole story at The Stacks Reader

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Notes on a Native Son

Originally published in GQ Magazine in August 1988, my piece “Notes on a Native Son” is re-printed at The Stacks Reader:

The first thing I saw were the eyes. They were large and looked very wise, older than the face in which they were set. There was a sadness about them. but more than that, a power, a strength that survived whatever the blows were—physical or psychic or probably, both—that caused the dark shadows around them, above and below, giving them the bruised look of a fighter who’d been punched. It might, in fact, have been the face of a fighter, a young black man with a thin mustache and short dark hair who had boxed his way out of the ghetto. He had actually done just that, but with words rather than fists.

Read the whole piece at the Stacks Reader

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Dan Wakefield

Dan Wakefield