this strikes me as a nice example of a simple but elegant piece. The author, Russ Buettner, sets scene with great economy, builds characters efficiently and vividly, trusts his readers to fill in some gaps in the tick-tock and build their own transitions where necessary, and renders a satisfying narrative arc. Mr. Buettner* is obviously a fan of John McPhee. But that’s a feature rather than a bug in my book.

* Times style.