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Alec Wilkinson (born 1952) is a writer who has been on the staff of The New Yorker since 1980. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer he is among the "first rank of" contemporary American (20th and early 21st century) "literary journalists...(reminiscent) of Naipaul, Norman Mailer and Agee."
He is the author of ten books: His most recent book is The Ice Balloon (2012), the account of the Swedish visionary aeronaut S.A. Andree's attempt, in 1897, to discover the North Pole by flying to it in a hydrogen balloon.
Before Wilkinson was a writer, he spent a year as a policeman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, which is the subject of Midnights, a Year with the Wellfleet Police, and before that he was a rock and roll musician, playing in a number of bands, including one in Berkeley, California with Tony Garnier, Bob Dylan's longtime bass player and bandleader.
Wilkinson began writing when he was twenty four, showing work to William Maxwell, his father's friend, who in addition to being a novelist and short-story writer, had for forty years been an editor of fiction at The New Yorker. They worked together closely for years. Maxwell died in July 2000. My Mentor describes their friendship.
Wilkinson's honors include a Lyndhurst Prize, a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and a Guggenheim fellowship. He is married, has a son, and lives in New York City. He is also the brother of Leland Wilkinson.
- Midnights, a Year with the Wellfleet Police. New York: Random House, 1982.
- Moonshine: a Life in Pursuit of White Liquor. New York: Knopf, 1985. ISBN 0394545877.
- Big Sugar (1989).
- The Riverkeeper (1981). ISBN 0679741348
- A Violent Act (1993). ISBN 0679749829
- My Mentor (2002). ISBN 0618382690
- Mr. Apology and other essays (2003). ISBN 0618123113
- The Happiest Man in the World (2007). ISBN 1407013114
- The protest singer : an Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. ISBN 0307272370
- The Ice Balloon (2012). ISBN 000746004X
- "Alec Wilkinson". Retrieved 15 May 2009.
- "The Bitter Lot of Sugar Cane Workers," Phillip Gourevitch, October 1, 1989
- Hellman, David (March 18, 2007). "Adventurer with a Maverick Streak". SF Gate.com. Retrieved Sep 30, 2010.
- "Lesson Learned: Don't Fly To North Pole In A Balloon". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-04-16.
- Wilkinson, Alec (1982). Midnights, a Year with the Wellfleet Police. Ruminator Books. ISBN 9781886913325.
- William Maxwell, 91, Author and Legendary Editor, Dies, New York Times, August 1, 2000
- Alec Wilkinson's contributor profile on The New Yorker
- Sample text from Mr. Apology and Other Essays by Alec Wilkinson.[dead link]
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