I did not read the essay/chapter about the guy whose baby died because he left it in his car and forgot. I've read a few of those stories. I have no judgmental words or thoughts for anyone involving in such a thing, but I just can't read those stories any more.
The title essay is the last entry. The entries are not chronological, and if there is a thematic ordering in the book, it escaped me; you should be able to read these in any order.
Weingarten seems to do good research. I had no complaints about factual inaccuracies, not did I object particularly to his choices of topics. He has a theory of good writing, bad writing, writers and mortality that I disagree with both in general and in particular, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying much of the collection.
It's hard to know how to review this book other than to sort of shrug and go, they're feature stories from the WaPo on a wide variety of topics. Some are more interesting than others. It's hard to tell sometimes whether Weingarten is being obtuse in his assumptions while depicting how an investigation developed, or whether he presents himself as obtuse in order to better tell the story.
It'll be interesting to see what happens when we discuss it at book group (this was a book group selection); I'll probably update this at that point. I would not go out of my way to read Gene Weingarten, but if someone recommended something by him, I would not decline to read it merely because he was the author.
I wish I could work up some excitement about this guy, one way or the other. But the honest truth is that Weingarten's issues, the things that really get him going, have utterly no relevance to me. His theory involves the idea that we expend an enormous amount of everything pretending that we might not at any moment die. This is an incredibly stupid idea, and it amazes me that someone older than me could expend this amount of time and energy arguing for this idea. I know I might die at any moment. I have for almost as long as I can remember. I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood alternating between planning (for) it and slogging through the day hoping against hope for it. It was really a shock to realize I might, in fact, live, and I had to make some drastic changes in the way I did things once that finally got through to me. It's not like that's something I'm ever likely to forget.
But hey. YMMV. He seems like a nice enough man.