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Norman Mailer
Literary journalism finds new platforms
Literary journalism finds new platforms

When National Book Award-winning novelist William T. Vollmann went to Japan this spring to report on the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant from inside the contamination zone, he did what any journalist would do. He bought a dosimeter to chart the radiation. He took "Cold War-era iodide tablets," which made his tongue tingle and left him with a rash. He decided to ignore statistics or official statements in favor of his observations, his conversations with survivors, his impressions: a kind of overview. "The stunning capacity of the Japanese official to say absolutely nothing," he writes, "is matched only by the absurd degree of trust that his public places in...

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