Learning from those taking old stories in new directions

A-list authors surely don't need my help to promote their work. Laura Hillenbrand, for example. She delivered two towering home runs with her nonfiction books (Seabisquit and Unbroken). In so doing, Hillenbrand entered that rarified realm of conversational awareness where she gets name-dropped from all sorts of tangents. Case in point, out at dinner with friends on Saturday, a story being re-told by my wife about the HBO Documentary on sportscaster Marty Glickman led the table to discuss Hillenbrand's Unbroken - the linkage is made through the amazing life of Louis Zamperini.

Without wanting to get too lost in those sub-references, I mean to instead logroll and commend Hillenbrand for her ability to sketch recognizable times in new ways. Mainly because she also nailed it with her piece about the 1930s in this month's 100th anniversary issue of "Vanity Fair" . If you haven't checked it out, I must insist that you do so. Out of all the decade-by-decade summary pieces, Hillenbrand's stands apart in my opinion. She brings something new to ground that's been covered often. Small, evocative details make all the difference.

As someone who hopes to write thought-provoking, scene-setting prose about both the Depression and World War I, I'm hyper-curious about those who've done it well. This should also serve as a quick post to say how much I'm digging the early stages of A. Scott Berg's Wilson . Although I can't pick up that book without hearing Tom Hanks in "Castaway" yelling for his island companion. Shtick aside, the company I'm finding in Berg's longform storytelling shelters me for all the other small ball stories bouncing around currently. Here again, I strongly endorse someone who certainly isn't in need of my approval.