This is a neat topic, conducive to good scene with its unusual site, strong characters and broad reason to care: the dying practice of setting up pins by hand. Batz achieves a nice, light tone with his snappy lead. He gives us a couple of entertaining scenes.
We propose a general revision, however: Imagine if Batz had gone into reporting with the intention of focusing on one kid and then written the piece with that focus. We believe we’d have gotten a more engaging experience: The boy would have entered the place, surrounded by his friends. (Instead we read about the more amorphous group entering en masse.) This boy would have faced a series of obstacles, challenges, as the night wore on, and we would have experienced them with him. The story would have been less a broad-brush painting of scene and more a mini-narrative with beginning, middle and end.
This piece is one in an ongoing series by the Post-Gazette called “Here.” The series offers reporters chances to do slice-of-life stories, to look for the charming, quirky or touching short narrative.
Read “Here: In Etna,” by Bob Batz Jr.