Five Things

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On this episode of HowSound, a story prompted by my daughter, Gwen.

Gwen’s only ten but she’s already a freak for good radio stories. She and I listen to lots of shows together: This American Life, 99% Invisible, Radiolab, The Moth. Gwen occasionally attends my classes at the Transom Story Workshop. She even comments about student work — after class. She hasn’t quite found the courage to talk in class yet. Soon, I hope.

The other day Gwen asked what my favorite student stories are. Prompted by her questions, I rifled through a slew of old work and came across Matt Largey’s story “Five Things.” If I had to pick a story for a “Top Ten Favorite Student Features,” this would be one of them because of its incredible intimacy.

I featured this piece on the very first edition of this podcast, back when it was called Saltcast. Even though I’ve already featured the piece and even though it’s ten years old, it still a remarkable story and well worth the listen.

I don’t want to give the story away in this blog post. I’d like you to listen to “Five Things” cold. It’ll be more surprising. So, after you listen to the podcast, watch this video from 2013 that has an update on the story’s main character, Bill Picard.

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  • Jim Russell

    8.27.15

    Reply

    Rob, I enjoyed listening to your comments and the piece “Five Things.” I agree about the remarkable intimacy achieved. But. I wonder about the reality of Bill’s dreams, and I find that Matt’s reporting isn’t sufficiently questioning of that. This makes the story very upbeat, which is fine — but fails to establish a “reasonableness” quotient. Maybe that’s not the job of an intimate portrait, but I would have been more comfortable and journalism better served if a greater attempt had been made to “balance” his dreams with reality.

  • Rob Rosenthal

    8.27.15

    Reply

    Hi Jim,

    It’s an honor to have you listen and write in.

    I thought the “reasonableness” quotient was addressed in several ways. First, the fact that Bill needs a full-time assistant — even to brush his teeth. Second, Bill’s funding request to start a business was rejected by an agency. Then, there’s the reporter’s observations about how people look at Bill in the grocery store. Bill’s good friend says that Bill often sabotages himself when it comes to dating and relationships. And, finally, Bill’s father wonders aloud if he may have instilled too many dreams in him.

    Don’t those points balance Bill’s dreams with reality?

    Whose voice should have been in the story in order to balance it?

    Thanks again for listening, Jim!

    Best,
    Rob

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