Creative writing is about great storytelling. And the Serial Podcast is what the Wall Street Journal called a “certified sensation” in the realm of great storytelling. Five million listeners downloaded episodes of Season One, a story in which journalist Sarah Koenig reopened the investigation of a 1999 strangling death of a Baltimore high school student. The girl’s former boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of her murder, but he maintained his innocence. Koenig set out to figure out the truth, one episode at a time. Was Syed guilty or innocent?
I’m a criminal defense lawyer and won an exoneration for a Boston-area homeless, schizophrenic man back in 2008. No one believed my client’s story, so I can relate to how it feels to investigate a claim without being sure you know what you’re looking for. I view Koenig’s work from the attorney’s and the writer’s perspectives and am mesmerized by how well she communicates her story, with certainty and with doubt, to her audiences. She is bold, creative, sensitive, and someone I trust completely. How does she accomplish that as a narrator? Why do five million of us listen to her when we aren’t sure that we will ever know the truth?
Season Two of Serial began a few weeks ago, and I am going to write short posts of every episode here. The theme of my reviews is not to judge the case by what I believe is or isn’t true. Rather, I hope to share with you three pearls of wisdom from each episode about what makes Koening such a stellar storyteller. Our short stories and essays have something to learn from a podcast that makes people in Los Angeles wish they had longer commutes.
With that, I hope you all tune into Serial, stop here at Carve for a moment of repose with me, and then leave your thoughts or questions below in the comment box.
This is the first post in our Serial podcast posts. Read all the posts about Serial on our blog.