David Samuels, a contributing editor at Harper’s magazine and a longtime contributor to The Atlantic and The New Yorker, is the author of Only Love Can Break Your Heart and The Runner. He is the literary editor of Tablet Magazine.
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In Only Love Can Break Your Heart, David Samuels writes with a reportorial acumen and stylistic flair that recall the pioneering New Journalism of Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Joan Didion. Combining elegant, nuanced personal essays with far–out reporting—on the lives of radicals in the Pacific Northwest, anti–abortion zealots, demolition experts, suburban hip–hop stars, and more—Samuels shows us an American landscape whose unsettling mix of profound dislocations and blue–sky optimism is both instantly recognizable and thrillingly new.
These essays display his unusual sensitivity to both the tragic and comic dissonances that bubble up from the gap between the American promise of endless nirvana and the lives of salesman, dreamers, aging baseball legends, crackpots, atomic test site workers, and dog track bettors who struggle to live out their dreams one day at a time.
A True Account of the Amazing Lies and Fantastical Adventures of the Ivy League Impostor James Hogue
The Runner tells the remarkable true story of a teenage drifter and petty thief named James Hogue who woke up one cold winter morning in a storage shed in Utah and decided to start his life anew. Re–imagining himself as a self–educated ranch hand named Alexi Indris–Santana who read Plato under the stars and could run a mile in under four minutes, Hogue applied and was accepted to Princeton University, where he excelled academically, made the track team, and became a member of the elite Ivy Club.
Echoing both The Great Gatsby and The Talented Mr. Ripley, the story of Hogue's life before and after he went to Princeton is both an immensely affecting portrait of a dreamer and a striking indictment of the Ivy League "meritocracy" to which Hogue wanted so badly to belong. Drawing elegant parallels between Hogue's ambitions and the American myth of self–invention, while also examining his own uneasy identification with his troubled subject, David Samuels has fashioned a powerful metaphor for the corruptions of the American dream, revealing exceptional gifts as a reporter and literary stylist.