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My Parents Adopted a Murderer

From Doree Shafrir's Best of Longreads picks: A woman looks back on her father's abuse—and how their relationship changed when her family adopted a teen who had killed his adoptive parents:

"He is sending these virtual photo bombs because I have stopped speaking to him. Three months ago, my sister and I mutually agreed that we were breaking off all contact -- divorcing him, disowning him -- and by extension, our mother, who apparently just doesn’t have it in her to defy him. We did this over email (admittedly, perhaps not the best way to do it, but you try verbally telling a parent it’s over -- it’s hard, y’all) and held our breath. After an initial barrage of angry emails, which devolved into apologetic emails, we’ve arrived at the photo bomb stage. No actual email, just the photos.

"The thing is, though, those happy little children in the photos? They’re nothing but ghosts, tiny spirit-girls haunting old Polaroids. When you are used to pretending that everything is ok, that you are a normal family with loving parents, you develop a really excellent false smile. You can do it on command, like a trained dog. But if we’re going to get real, if we’re to bring any semblance of verisimilitude into this, let’s look at the true pics: my father drunk and vicious, smashing up a bedroom suite, or beating the dog, or whipping my sister and me with a belt, or getting blind drunk and forcing us into the car, where he’d drive and scream at us for hours, or, in a series of nightmarish images, like some flipbook from hell, let’s see my father wrap his hands round my mother’s throat and strangle her. See me and my sister punching and kicking at his legs, trying to stop him? See our little teeth biting ineffectually at his pant cuffs?"
PUBLISHED: Dec. 12, 2012
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2153 words)

Longreads Best of 2012: Doree Shafrir

Doree Shafrir is the Executive Editor of BuzzFeed. Her story, "Can You Die from a Nightmare?" was featured on Longreads in September.

Read more guest picks from Longreads Best of 2012.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 10, 2012
LENGTH: 1 minutes (383 words)

Can You Die From a Nightmare?

People who suffer from parasomnias, or sleeping disorders, often sleepwalk and experience night terrors, putting them in potentially dangerous situations:

"My research tells me that most people who suffer from night terrors describe episodes that sound familiar: They feel suffocated, they are about to die, there is someone in the room with them. That doesn't, of course, make my individual night terrors any less scary, and it crosses my mind that I could actually scare myself to death.

"The prevailing theory about Tobias Wong's death was that he hanged himself while experiencing a night terror. I imagine that something in his mind told him that hanging himself was the only way to escape whoever, or whatever, was chasing him, in the same way that I have thought that the only way to save myself was to jump out of a window or smash a pane of glass.

"I realize that I want to talk to Dubitsky, both to find out what it was like for him and also to see how closely my experiences dovetail with his. If unintended suicide is the logical extreme of a sleep disorder, am I in imminent danger?"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 5, 2012
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7118 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of 2011: Your Picks

See the latest from our community's Top 5 lists celebrating the year's best nonfiction and fiction. Includes picks from Jessica Pressler, Jenna Wortham, Steve Silberman, Matthias Rascher, Lev Grossman, Doree Shafrir, Alexander Chee, Elliott Holt, and more.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 14, 2011

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[Not single-page] A new generation of tech entrepreneurs in the city is trying to overthrow old media and build a better New York--with the help of their iPhones. Are they dreaming? Definitely. But in a good way.
PUBLISHED: April 18, 2010
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5853 words)

If She Did It (2007)

No one expected Judith Regan to go quietly. After dropping out of sight for much of this year, on Nov. 13 she filed a lawsuit against News Corp, HarperCollins, and Jane Friedman for defamation, breach of contract, and sex discrimination. Most spectacularly, the lawsuit alleges that Ms. Regan was the victim of a vast conspiracy, set in motion by two unnamed News Corp executives, who were worried that she would expose secrets about her now-indicted former lover Bernard Kerik—the former New York City police commissioner—that would imperil his former boss Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid. News Corp conspired to not only fire her, according to the lawsuit, but also defame her and discredit her so that any allegations she made would be immediately discounted as the ravings of a crazy person.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 20, 2007
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3902 words)