Thursday, August 5, 2010

My 45-minute commute is totally worth it when ...

... I get to listen to 45 minutes of Gene Weingarten on The Bob Edwards Show on satellite radio.
 Weingarten has collected stories and columns in "The Fiddler in the Subway," and talks to Edwards about how his stories came about, about writing, about editing and all kinds of cool stuff. Anyone who's read Weingarten's pieces about violinist Joshua Bell playing for change in the subway, or people who've left their children locked in cars in hot weather, or 'The Great Zucchini,' will eat this up.

 Edwards asked him how the idea of finding the "armpit of America" came about. "The impetus for that one is that I'm kind of a jerk, a congenital smart-ass," Weingarten said. He had wondered about the many places people refer to as the armpit of America, and wanted to find the "real" one.

He also had a fascinating observation on writing, drawn in part from a long-ago story he did about a terribly inefficient sewage treatment plant in Detroit that basically wasn't treating sewage. His lead traced sewage from points around Detroit to the collecting point -- the plant. "And then it hits the fan," he wrote.

He used that example to say that the most important words aren't the ones you write, they're the ones that you don't write -- the ones you make pop up in a reader's head. By doing that, he said, you change the reader from a passive receiver of what you've written to an ally.

 You can download Bob Edwards shows here for $2.95. This one's worth it.