This piece unfolds slowly, drawing you in. The violinist is identified only as “he,” someone who is seemingly playing for money just outside a Washington, D.C., metro station. Pedestrians begin to pass by. We’ve all been there. So Weingarten puts us, the readers, right there, into his story. We become his pedestrians. Do we stop to listen? Do we throw in a couple of bucks to assuage our guilt? Do we pretend not to notice the guy? Without realizing it, we are now part of what’s happening. And to stop reading now is nearly impossible.
Then Weingarten lets you in on the secret. This performance is a setup. He tells you who the musician is – gasp! You sit back and smile. Now you know what’s going to happen next.
Boy, are you going to be surprised – another writing hook to keep your readers intrigued.
And so is the musician. This world-renowned figure ends up sharing his own unexpected feelings about what occurs, giving readers a most rare, honest glimpse into the moments of uncertainty of a genius. For me, this was the hidden gem in the story. Because this was a new experience for the violinist, I got to share his feelings right along with him. Worth the read all by itself.
In the end, there’s a sadness to this story, yet a feeling of triumph, too. There’s controversy – of course no one stopped; they’re on their way to work! But I was left most with a feeling of wonder, that something like this could occur in any of our lives at any moment – and hoping that I would be smart enough not to miss it.
This is feature writing at its best: A story that pulls you in, makes you a part of the events, and stays with you long after you’re done reading. Congratulations, Mr. Weingarten. And thank you.