The power of writing

I should have known this Sunday afternoon with its long list of things to do would get stalled on the first item. Today it’s not so much my tendency to procrastinate  nor my tendency to get sidetracked.  I was on task today, but the task was to identify great feature writing for my students to read and write about in their own blogs.

I wanted stories that would engage them, stories by authors they should know, stories that break the rules and succeed, stories where the depth of the reporting gives depth and color and detail to the writing.

I chose six after wandering through best magazine writing lists and trying to find some of my favorite stories. I have been lost all afternoon in this terrific writing. I’ve cried a few times, laughed out loud and have been moved by the power of writing.  I hope my students also experience some of those same reactions and not just the feeling of another assignment.

Here’s the list:

“The American Male at Age 10,”  by Susan Orlean. From Esquire, 1979

“Can you say .. ‘Hero’ ” by Tom Junod, Esquire, 1998.

“Mrs. Kelly’s Monster” by Jon Franklin, Baltimore Sun, 1978.

“The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and the Shrub” by David Foster Wallace, Rolling Stone,  2000.

“Pearls Before Breakfast” by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post, 2007

“The Final Salute” by Jim Sheeler,  Rocky Mountain News, 2005.

Of course, so many stories are left off. What would you add? What’s an essential story for feature writers? No Hunter Thompson. Few women.

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