Summary of One Day

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One Day book summary

Editorial Rating

9

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging

Recommendation

Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten examines a random, “ordinary” day. The stories he relates are both nothing special and significantly moving. Most barely made it into the news. Searching behind the bare facts of murder, catastrophe, heroism, good fortune and despair, Weingarten discovers how events emerge from webs of connection, coincidence and chance to affect a community and generations to come. He’s a charming, captivating writer, with an eye for telling detail, a flair for dramatic narrative and a gift for complex, layered portraits.

About the Author

Washington Post writer and humor columnist Gene Weingarten has won two Pulitzer Prizes for feature writing. 

Summary

No day is ordinary. Take December 28, 1986, for example.

In 2012, Washington Post editor Gene Weingarten came up with what he judged to be a good “stunt.” In the past, he’d found good stories by setting up some other so-called stunts:

  • Getting world-famous violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to busk near a Metro stop in Washington, DC. The story: how the rushing passersby responded to the beauty that Bell created in their midst.
  • Assigning five writers to profile people they selected by banging a nail into a phone book – wherever it stopped, that person was each writer’s subject. The result was five gripping tales.

Similarly, Weingarten selected a day at random during which he would discover what happened across the United States from one midnight to the next. Then, he wrote a book of the stories. He hoped he could show how an ordinary day is anything but and how every span of time is a “microcosm” containing all the motifs of the human drama.

Weingarten and his book editor put 64 slips of paper in a hat. Twelve showed the name of a month, 31 showed the days of ...


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