The book Please Kill Me: simply excellent, or ground zero for modern oral histories?

The OP title sums it up. Here’s a link to the book:

I’m about to start Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman. It is unabashedly hoping to be the Please Kill Me of its era in NYC and from what I hear, largely succeeds:

But it makes me think about PKM. I love the book from when I first read it in the early oughts. But think about it - all of the other oral histories that have come along, from SNL to the Daily Show. I wonder how much they modeled their approach on PKM, or was the oral history approach already strong and I just happened to dip in with that particular one?

I associate the oral history genre with Studs Terkel and he was decades before that. There have been dozens, maybe hundreds, since then that show up when I put “oral history” into bookfinder.

Of course Terkel! :smack:

I guess I think of him as scanning a population, vs taking you inside a moment, the way Please Kill Me and the SNL books do.

By coincidence I’m reading Budd Friedman’s The Improv, which uses comedians to tell the story of his classic comedy club.

I never did read PKM, but I have his The Other Hollywood, which I should pull out again before the next season of The Deuce.

I’d go back to the WPA during the New Deal. A lot of writers and historians (including Terkel) were hired by the government to collect oral histories. This brought the concept into the historiographic mainstream.

This is a nice appreciation of Jean Stein, who edited “Edie” with George Plimpton, about Edie Sedgwick.

I think that was the pivotal work for taking it forward into today.

True, but what WordMan refers to is a style of telling a history by cutting together paragraphs from dozens of different people to form a narrative. Technically, that’s not what Terkel did either. He strung together short chapters from lots of people, built up into sections, to give individual perceptions of a larger theme.

I don’t know who did the paragraph style first. It definitely predates McNeil, as drad dog shows. That was a major work. It’s also used by Peter Golenbock in 1984’s Bums: An Oral History of the Brooklyn Dodgers. My sense is that it was well established by the end of the 80s.

I’d still say that Turkel’s oral histories were extremely influential in publishing. If they didn’t actually start the trend, they made it possible.

Yes, that’s what I’m after. I read Edie - and it’s safe to assume that cool kids Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, PKM’s authors did, too. But it’s almost the Velvet Underground to PKM’s The Ramones - influential to PKM, but without nearly as broad a shadow.

I was thinking about Peter Biskind’s Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, his oral history of movie-making in the 70’s, but that came out after PKM by 2 years.

I wanted to point out this later one by Legs McNeil, which I devoured just as quickly as Please kill me, and you may too: