The Art of Being There

Between the newspaper on your doorstep and the novel on your nightstand lies narrative nonfiction. Some call it literary journalism or the nonfiction novel. But whatever the label, here lies the boundary where story-telling and truth-telling intersect. This is what I love, how I write, and why I tell people mine is the best job ever.

What is that job? I find my way inside a hidden world – a juvenile court, a hospital for preemies, the biggest landfill in the world, the passenger seat of a driverless car – and then bring my readers along for the ride, to meet unforgettable characters and experience something surprising. Call it “the art of being there.”

I started writing for newspapers, received a Pulitzer Prize for covering the military, then took a temporary leave to write one book. The new gig stuck. My recent book is number 13, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash. (Pretty self-descriptive title for a book about the waste embedded in everything we do, eat, buy and sell, don’t you think?) Two of my books, Mean Justice and Mississippi Mud, are being developed for film, and Garbology is a campus-wide read at universities nationwide. What can I say: the kids like to talk trash.

My upcoming book explores the hidden wonder and craziness of our have-it-now, be-there-now economy. Look for Door to Door: Our Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation in April 2016.

This website is your guide to my books and the topics they explore: crime, the justice system, medicine, education, science versus religion, the environment and sustainability, and transportation. Take a minute to browse—you’ll find excerpts, reviews, articles, readers’ guides for classes and book clubs, and video and audio interviews. If you like what you see, please subscribe to my email list so we and stay in touch. 

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