The Mission Impossible III star likes journalism with the depth of fiction and four sad, gorgeous 20th-century American novels.
I'm reading Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem right now. It's wonderful, and I am not able to describe why. What's interesting is that many of the essays were written around the time that Truman Capote's In Cold Blood came out. Didion takes a similar tack in some ways, creating something that is a piece of reporting but also a piece of art.
"Journalism always moves along a horizontal plane, telling a story," Capote said in an interview, "while fiction—good fiction—moves vertically, taking you deeper and deeper into character and events. By treating a real event with fictional techniques…it's possible to make this kind of synthesis." I feel like Joan Didion, who started out as a novelist, does that. Jon Krakauer and some of the other writers on my list do it, too.
Philip Seymour Hoffman won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for his role in Capote.
What's on Philip Seymour Hoffman's bookshelf? Read more!
From the May 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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