Advice from the Masters: Po Bronson

Dec 17, 2014 | Better Writing

Po Bronson holds a special place in my Pantheon of Authors. He’s a great writer of all sorts of things, but that’s not what I think of when I hear his name. No, Po is the author who got me through one of the most awful airline trips of my life. It happened this way.

I was headed home from India with a raging stomach “condition” to keep me company. By the time I got to the airport in Mumbai I was sure there was nothing left inside me. By the time we landed in Abu Dhabi I realized how optimistic I had been.

I felt awful. There was a long time between planes in Abu Dhabi, followed by two long flights, first to Europe and then to the US. I wanted something to read to keep my mind off my stomach.

In the bookstore I found a copy of Po Bronson’s Bombardiers. It wasn’t available in the US at the time. I had read his The Nudist on the Night Shift and thought it captured a world I knew pretty well, so I thought I’d give his earlier work a try.

It was incredible. Think of it as a kind of Joseph Heller meets Michael Lewis. I chortled constantly. Every few pages I’d laugh out loud, my stomach maladies forgotten.

All of that came flooding back when I found the following bit of Bo’s writing advice. You can find more on his web site.

“Write from your whole self. If you have a sense of humor, make sure that flavor’s in your writing. If you like talking ideas, make sure there are ideas in your writing. Anything less will be unsustainable.”

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