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The Fiddler in the Subway: The Story of the World-Class Violinist Who Played for Handouts. . . And Other Virtuoso Performances by America's Foremost Feature Writer
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The Fiddler in the Subway: The Story of the World-Class Violinist Who Played for Handouts. . . And Other Virtuoso Performances by America's Foremost Feature Writer

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  1,290 ratings  ·  216 reviews

Simply the best storyteller around, Weingarten describes the world as you think it is before revealing how it actually is—in narratives that are by turns hilarious, heartwarming, and provocative, but always memorable.

Millions of people know the title piece about violinist Joshua Bell, which originally began as a stunt
ebook, 384 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Simon Schuster (first published 2010)
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Start your review of The Fiddler in the Subway: The Story of the World-Class Violinist Who Played for Handouts. . . And Other Virtuoso Performances by America's Foremost Feature Writer
Betsy Robinson
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to anybody who reads.

I would recommend this book to anybody who writes and publishes, or secretly writes, or doesn’t write but wants to, or who is learning to tell stories.

I would recommend this book to people who don’t read and would rather be playing video games or watching a ball game while gulping Bud Light.

I would recommend this for a beach read because there are lots of brilliant short pieces that alternate with long feature articles—moving and funny and total
Hank Stuever
Sep 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this Gene Weingarten guy shows a lot of promise!
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Becky by: Jeff Sharlet
What happens when you pick up the last book you will ever read? When the writing is so good that it will ruin everything else for you? Gene Weingarten's writing did that for me. This book is a collection of feature writing he has done at The Washington Post. Two of the pieces won Pulitzer Prizes.

Only three stories in -- The Great Zucchini, The First Father and The Ghost of the Hardy Boys -- and I thought, "If you want to write, read this book. If you want to teach others to write, use this book.
Oriyah Nitkin
The author starts his book by explaining what makes good writing. "How pompous of him," I thought, "to think he is worthy of proposing a definition." He then went on to claim that he, himself, is a good writer. (Though I imagine now that he used a word more nuanced, and less common, than "good.")

But I very quickly noticed that the author does have this right. His writing was downright delicious. It was delectable. It was BRILLIANT! Who was this guy? So I clicked the little tab at the top of my e
Oct 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I'd read most of these essays in this book already, many when they were originally published. But something about having them collected this way feels satisfying. I aim to become a writer of this caliber one day. If I get even a tenth of the way there, I'll consider the effort a success. ...more
Eric Black
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, writing
Gene Weingarten is the sort of writer who produces the sort of writing that should be read by those who hope to write and deliver a compelling narrative at least once a week.

The introduction is a writing course in six pages. Weingarten tells us how to write well, how to grab and keep readers' and listeners' attention.

Each selection included in this altogether too brief anthology is accompanied by Weingarten's own commentary, which continues his introductory instruction.

Each selection is masterfu
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
First, let me say that Weingarten is an incredible writer. However, something that he did in the introduction bothered me throughout the book. He was a bit too specific about his "process", so it was difficult for me to really feel the magic of his writing. I suppose I prefer to have more illusion and distance. The discussion of his methods and philosophy, which I'm sure is interesting to aspiring writers, allowed me to see too deeply beyond the words into the intent. I didn't feel the emotion t ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of stories previously published in the Washington Post. Some wonderful, some just okay and others so haunting that they will stay with you long after you closed the book.
Ashley Strukel
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I don’t usually like collections of essays or books of short stories, but this book was a delight. I hadn’t heard of it but it was pressed into my hands by a friend and I’m so glad. It’s a collection of feature stories, and even the ones that weren’t super interesting to me were so well-written that I looked forward to reading the next story when I finished one, and was sad to have finished the book. Definitely recommend!
Jul 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in the mechanics of writing, this book serves and an excellent primer. Weingarten, like all masters of any craft, makes it all look quite effortless. Point of view, character development, compelling subjects, judicious placement of personal attitude. It's all there. Each story lends itself to the study of 'what works in writing'.

For readers who simply enjoy the thrill of a carnival ride and have no interest in the gears and cogs and pulleys in the undercarriage, step right
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays
I want to say I loved this book . . . But, I won't, I can't. I think it's Super-Duper-Awesome that there are people who can, will, do write so ideally, technically adroitly. But often the flip side of such exceptional technical writing is the emptiness in the feelings of the stories.

There were plenty of times I would turn the page hoping to see the end of the essay. But, alas no, Arghhhhhh. I prefer something that flows and twists and turns that may not be as grammatically correct but is fill
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Gene Weingarten has such a way with words. He is a journalist for the Washington Post. These are essays that have been in the Washington Post. They are nonfiction and he has gotten Pulitzer Prizes for two of them, I believe. I became aware of Weingarten last year when the essay on Fatal Distractions was being passed around. This was an article he wrote on parents who have become distracted and left children in the car. This essay is included in this collection. Ver ...more
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Unfortuantely, late 2012 is the season of short reviews for me. I found this book on the "leave a book, take a book" shelf at the Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia. As I expected nothing from the book, it took me quite by storm. What interesting and moving stories! My favorites were the one about the town that is the "arm-pit" of America and the one about the fiddler in the subway (at the very end). ...more
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Want to learn more about the meaning of life? Try this book...
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An incredible writer who searches for truth. Inspiring and intriguing.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Book of essays by prize-winning Washington Post reporter. Really good writing. Highly recommended.
Dec 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A collection of "best of show" classic journalism. Weingarten is both a great storyteller and a great boots-on-the-ground reporter. Even though some of these stories follow outdated late-90's subjects (Clinton pops up often), the quality of the writing makes them classic. He has an adroit way of carefully framing, but not belaboring, his thesis. He knows when to back off.

You can read this book to immerse yourself in the stories he tells (who knew Doonesbury could still be interesting), or you c
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An enthralling collection of articles and essays by a writer that takes you on unexpected journeys through a story. The author has a way with words and weaving a narrative that keep you engaged and curious.

This passage sums up the author's style:
"That night, I'd learned two lessons. The first is that without passion, you have nothing. The second is that the most important words in your story are the ones you don't write. They're the ones you imply -- the ones that you cause to pop into the read
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A collection of long form journalism pieces which appeared in the Washington Post. Weingarten is a master journalist who finds the "story" in any situation. Every one of these essays was a gem, no two alike. He is a wonderful writer and I read the entire collection in a few days. Loved his piece about starting a "non-voters" party, who could have their way on any issue, but of course, they don't vote, so this is a no-go! He sees the best and most interesting part of everyone, and one of the shor ...more
Sheri S.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Fiddler in the Subway is a compilation of interesting and well-written stories published by The Washington Post's Gene Weingarten. The stories look at everything from the author of the Hardy Boys book series to facing one's fears to the accounts of parents whose children died due to being left in the backseats of cars on hot days. The author takes a fresh/creative perspective as he tells each of the stories and its impact on him. Two of the stories in the book won the author Pulitzer Prizes ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've loved some of these pieces since they were first published in the Washington Post, remembering details and how devastating / transformational they were to me like I had just read them yesterday... and was therefore a bit surprised to see the original publication dates for my favorites (Snowbound - 2005, Fatal Distraction - 2009). Weingarten can draw in a reader like no one else, and this collection was almost too good to consume at once, since each essay is so thought-provoking and profound ...more
Karen Levi
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gene Weingarten is a an excellent writer. His stories are heartfelt and inspiring. My favorites were the story about the girl who was brain dead, terrorism in Israel, Joshua Bell, why people don’t vote, Doonesbury, and the armpit of America. The most disturbing story was about parents who forget their children in cars. To arouse emotions through a small
Piece of writing is a special skill that I value and respect. Gene Weingarten uses a combination of pathos, humor, and actual research in a seem
MB Shakespeare
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
FANTASTIC writing! Too many wonderful lines to write here! Fave quote: "It is said that people are shaped the most not by what they want but by what they fear. Paranoiacs and depressives are in some way the sanest among us, according to Becker, because their layer of denial is so fragile it fractures. Most of us are able to retain our sanity so long as our anxiety is held at bay, and our anxiety is held at bay so long as our bold illusion remains manageable." ...more
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The meaning of life is that it ends.” - Franz Kafka

“Kafka nailed it.” - Me [Gene Weingarten]

— From the Introduction.

This book is a collection of secular sermons. Every (well, almost) essay includes personal anecdotes that Gene relates to the big issues of death, and then brings back to everyday experiences again. You know, just like a good sermon.

Weingarten’s writing is a full-speed-ahead, steamrollering of your feelings. Go, read it.
Zhuo Zhang
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the essay of the same title as the book first and like it immediately, then I read the first essay and like the book even more. The characters in this book are truly vividly described and the events he narrated are either interesting or thought-provoking or both. His experience in Jerusalem impresses me the most. However, his wisdom seeps through the whole book. A very pleasant reading experience indee色额
Richard Thompson
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, best2020
After reading One Day: The Extraordinary Story of an Ordinary 24 Hours in America by Gene Weingarten, I decided to see if I could find this collection of Weingarten's column's from The Washington Post. I was lucky enough to find a second hand copy, and I'm glad I took the trouble.

I particularly liked the piece about The "Ghost" of the Hardy Boys, and the piece about Garry Trudeau, the creator of the Doonesbury cartoon strip.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really, really good feature writing that makes it look easy (it isn't). The collection contains the stories that won Weingarten his two Pulitzers (the title story, and a hard-to-read story about infants dying in hot cars). My favorite was probably the piece on Garry Trudeau, the artist behind Doonesbury. ...more
Cheryl Johnson
(I didn't rate this book because I read only the title chapter.)

The original Washington Post article called "Pearls Before Breakfast" was published in August 2007. Find it. Read it. It's a great story--beautiful and poignant, especially now when so many of us, from a somber place, are asking, "What really matters?"
Linda Anderson
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author writes very well. I had not realized the book would be a collection of Washington Post articles. It almost felt like you were reading a collection of short stories. Subjects of the writings varied, but all were of high interest to me. A wonderful book!
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A truly accomplished writer pens the stories that draw you in to care about the people. Can see why it was a Pulitzer Prize winner.
My favorite was the story from the title though there were many of the short stories that I couldn't put down.
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readers from the ...: November 2011: The Fiddler in the Subway 2 6 Jan 22, 2012 06:23AM  

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A Pulitzer Prize winning reporter and humorist for the Washington Post and author of a number of books.

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