Book Nook: The Fiddler in the Subway – Gene Weingarten

In 2007, professional American violinist Joshua Bell performed at the Washington D.C. Metro station as a social experiment to see if anybody would recognize him. In the end, only 1 person knew it was him, and only a few others recognized his talent for what it was.

I remember seeing videos about this experiment, but I didn’t realize that the related article written by Gene Weingarten in The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize. Honestly, I didn’t even know who Weingarten was until I found The Fiddler in the Subway while perusing the book section of a local thrift store with my wife.

Gene Weingarten is a columnist for The Washington Post, and The Fiddler in the Subway is a collection of several of his best articles.

The article about Joshua Bell is only one of the 20 articles in the book, and I imagine it was used as the title of the book simply because of the media attention that the article received when it was published. A smart decision, if you ask me. The only reason I picked it up off the shelf was to see if it was connected to the videos I had seen years earlier.

Some of the articles are only 2-3 pages, while others are more like 20-30. However, all of them are incredibly well-written. I had just finished a book prior to this one that – while interesting – was pretty dry as far as the actual writing was concerned. Immediately after starting this one, I thought, “Yes! This is a real book.”

Weingarten writes about a children’s performer with a gambling problem, his own search for which town can truly be called the “Armpit of America”, his love of The Hardy Boys as a kid followed by his realization as an adult that the writing kind of stinks, etc…

There’s no real theme. It’s simply a collection of really well-written stories.

As one of my 5-star books, I would openly recommend it to somebody looking for a good book to read. Having said that, some of you shouldn’t read it…

If you can’t handle reading about bad things happening to children, don’t read this book. Most of the stories have nothing to do with children or emotional trauma. However, three articles contain tragedies involving children – one warranting a notice stating that some may find it extremely disturbing.

I appreciate the quality of the book, and I want more people to read it, However, it’s not worth it if doing so fills your head with intrusive thoughts.

Be smart. You know your limits better than I do.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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