Tag Archives: one day

ONE DAY: THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF AN ORDINARY 24 HOURS IN AMERICA by Gene Weingarten

Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten rolled the dice in 2013 when he asked three strangers to pick three numbers out of a hat. Those three numbers would form a date, and for his next book, he would find noteworthy things that happened on that day and tell those stories. The date he ended up with? December 28, 1986. Weingarten was triply disappointed – 1986 wasn’t terribly newsy, and the 28th of December – a Sunday, ugh – fell during the sleepy lull between Christmas and New Year’s. He had his work cut out for him.

One Day: The Extraordinary Story Of An Ordinary 24 Hours In America is the collection of some of the stories he unearthed while researching what happened across America on December 28, 1986. There’s a wide range here – some love stories, some crime stories, a story about race relations in New York, a story about two men who died of AIDS on the same day, and many more. Most of the stories use that date as a launchpad but continue decades into the future, relating the strange and improbable turns that many of the lives took in the decades that followed. Most of the stories have some sort of a twist – the couple with the abusive husband has stayed together; the baby pulled from the burning home survived; the woman accused of killing her parents never served time. Weingarten was clearly most interested in writing about times when people beat the odds and managed to make it past that fateful day.

Some chapters of One Day are more interesting than others. Looking back now, having finished the book, there are chapters that bleed into each other in my mind, and few that truly stand out as memorable. But that said, I enjoyed One Day quite a bit, and I admire the book perhaps more for what it accomplished than for the actual substance of the chapters. I can’t imagine the amount of research that went into this book – identifying stories that had their germ on that day and then tracing their resolution to determine if anyone would want to read about it, and then setting up and conducting all those interviews. Weingarten said that writing One Day took four years longer than he expected, and I can see why.

If you enjoy books like A Day In The Life Of America (I was obsessed with this book as a kid), this is its prose-format cousin.

I listened to One Day on audio, which I don’t recommend. It is narrated by Johnathan McClain, and I found his delivery to be too glib for the subject matter, which often included death, murder, abuse and other serious topics. I was put off by the tone he often used when he relayed some of the chapters. He’s not a bad performer; he just wasn’t the right choice for this book.

ONE DAY by David Nicholls

Nicholls One book that's getting a lot of attention this summer is One Day, by David Nicholls. (I blogged about it here.) I finished it yesterday, and highly recommend it.

One Day is the story of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew – two friends in England who have a short romantic interlude right before graduation in 1988. Each chapter of One Daychecks in with Emma and Dexter on July 15th over 20 subsequent years. (The final chapter is July 15, 2008). The book tracks Emma and Dexter's relationship over that period, and in so doing tells the story of their lives from age 21 to 41. Sometimes Emma and Dexter are in close contact, and sometimes they aren't speaking. But they always have a presence in each other's lives.

Nicholls does a fine job of conveying the life stages "Em and Dex" go through together – the moorless early twenties, the seedlings of professional identity, the breakups of serious but flawed relationships, and the years when everyone else seems to be getting a life (except you). Em and Dex don't always experience these stages at the same time, but Nicholls tracks them through pitch perfect interactions (both with each other and with others) and sharp, witty descriptions of their lives.

I really enjoyed One Day. I cared about what happened to these two people, and I found them believable and sympathetic. I also liked Nicholls' writing. Here's a passage I liked:

It would be inappropriate, undignified, at thirty-eight, to conduct friendships or love affairs with the ardour and intensity of a twenty-two-year-old. Falling in love like that? Writing poetry, crying at pop songs? Dragging people into photo-booths, taking a whole day to make a compilation tape, asking people if they wanted to share your bed, just for company… Ridiculous, at thirty-eight, to expect a song or book or film to change your life. No, everything had evened out and settled down and life was lived against a general background hum of comfort, satisfaction and familiarity.  There would be no more of those nerve-jangling highs and lows. The friends they had now would be the friends they had in five, ten, twenty years' time. They expected to get neither dramatically richer nor poorer; they expected to stay healthy for a little while yet.

There's a lot to like about One Day. The ending is sad (warning!), but it's not unrealistic. I also liked that the book tracks cultural trends over the last 20 years – cell phones, email, recessions, even fashion.

BTW, the movie version of this book is supposedly already in production, so read it now!

ONE DAY by David Nicholls

I know, I am not supposed to be looking at new books right now.

But. This one looked so cool. I read about it on Very Short List, which I refuse to unsubscribe from. And I *may* have to pursue it. It's called One Day, by David Nicholls. From VSL:

Nichols In the funny, sweet and completely engrossing novel One Day by David Nicholls, Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew first meet on July 15, 1988, at the end of their time at university, where they end up in bed together. After that, the book checks in with them on the same day each year, spanning two decades of up-and-down friendship.

The pair comes from different backgrounds—Dexter is handsome, confident and well-off; Emma is brilliant, from more modest means, and struggles to find her way after graduation as Dexter’s career takes off in television. But with each passing year, the tables begin to turn, and their always fraught friendship endures increasingly grown-up challenges. The friendship at the heart of this novel is best expressed within the pitch-perfect dialogue/banter between the two. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to read it without envisioning a movie—and sure enough, one is already in production.

This is like a cupcake sitting next to me – major temptation. Do I request a copy? Or do I stay faithful to the book bankruptcy code? I will keep you in suspense. 🙂