This week's picks include Fortune Magazine, the Dallas Observer, Priceonomics, Project Wordsworth, the Toronto Sun, fiction from The New Yorker and a guest pick by Emily Schultz.
[Fiction] A young man, estranged from his girlfriend, receives experimental stem-cell treatment in Germany:
"Hayley wasn’t coming. It was pretty obvious. Julian sat shivering in the chill, listening for the 9:13. Then the 9:41. Then the 10:02. He was tired. In winter, he sometimes caught a fever. His arms burned hot, as if a flame were being held to his skin. This was the nerves dying, an Internet confidant had explained. Of course his immune system wanted him dead. It knew. It was making the call on behalf of the wider society. It was taking him out. In the larger project of the universe, of which he must necessarily be kept in the dark, his own existence appeared to be an obstacle. So the species makes an adjustment. It redacts."
PUBLISHED: May 14, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7397 words)
This week's picks include pieces from Allie Brosh, The Believer, Miami New Times, GQ, The New Yorker, fiction from Guernica and a guest pick by Michael Macher.
Inside the debate over what the U.S. should do about Syria:
"He walked back to his desk and sat down. 'The Syria I have just drawn for you—I call it the Sinkhole,' he said. 'I think there is an appreciation, even at the highest levels, of how this is getting steadily worse. This is the discomfort you see with the President, and it’s not just the President. It’s everybody.' No matter how well intentioned the advocates of military intervention are, he suggested, getting involved in a situation as complex and dynamic as the Syrian civil war could be a foolish risk. The cost of saving lives may simply be too high. 'Whereas we had a crisis in Iraq that was contained—it was very awful for us and the Iraqis—this time it will be harder to contain,' he said. 'Four million refugees going into Lebanon and Jordan is not the kind of problem we had going into Iraq.'"
PUBLISHED: May 6, 2013
LENGTH: 33 minutes (8361 words)
Today’s guest pick comes from frequent Longreads contributor Pravesh Bhardwaj, who recommends Alice Munro's short story, published in The New Yorker in 1999.
Why do some people react so negatively to the idea of "extreme morality"? An interview with The New Yorker's Larissa MacFarquhar, whose latest book project examines the selfless acts of others:
"If the suspicion is hypocrisy, I think we underestimate the sort of people I’m writing about—it’s entirely possible to live an extremely ethical life without being hypocritical. But besides that, I think people overvalue certain kinds of sins. For instance, many people have said to me, when they hear who I’m writing about, ‘Well, don’t they just act morally to make themselves feel better? Don’t they get all self-righteous and overly proud of themselves?’ I think that pride and self-righteousness are far less important than most people seem to think they are. I think that if you’re doing something that’s hard to do and good to do, and that makes you feel proud, I just don’t see why that’s so terrible. One kidney donor told me that his donation made him feel better about himself—that it was one really good thing he’d done in his life, which he had otherwise made a pretty complete mess of. Some psychologists think you shouldn't donate in order to feel better about yourself, but it strikes me as an excellent reason!"
PUBLISHED: April 18, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3357 words)
The life and death of pioneering feminist Shulamith Firestone:
"Midway through the service, the feminist author Kate Millett, now seventy-eight, approached the dais, bearing a copy of 'Airless Spaces' (1998), the only book that Firestone published after her landmark manifesto, 'The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution,' which came out in 1970. Millett read from a chapter entitled 'Emotional Paralysis,' in which Firestone wrote of herself in the third person:
"She could not read. She could not write. . . . She sometimes recognized on the faces of others joy and ambition and other emotions she could recall having had once, long ago. But her life was ruined, and she had no salvage plan.
"Clearly, something terrible had happened to Firestone, but it was not her despair alone that led Millett to choose this passage. When she finished reading, she said, 'I think we should remember Shulie, because we are in the same place now.' It was hard to say which moment the mourners were there to mark: the passing of Firestone or that of a whole generation of feminists who had been unable to thrive in the world they had done so much to create."
PUBLISHED: April 8, 2013
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8097 words)
[Fiction] A previously unpublished sci-fi story by the writer and film critic, who died on April 4 at age 70:
"'This is a vague idea,' said Regan. 'I'm still working on it. Titan evolves molecules that group in such a way that they, oh, get together, like, and don't actually communicate, like, but prowl around in non-self-conscious collective-information patterns. That's what we're hearing, now that we're closer to the source.'
"'There's only one way this is going,' Alex said. 'A lunar intelligence.'
"'Intelligence is not required,' Regan said. 'All that's needed are patterns that move more easily than other patterns. Patterns that lend themselves to pattern-originators. The way of least resistance. We don't like sulfur, but it's yummy for the deep-sea plumes.'"
Read more from the Longreads Roger Ebert Archive
PUBLISHED: April 4, 2013
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2410 words)
A collection of stories from Salon, Jane, The New Yorker, New York Times and more.
PUBLISHED: March 30, 2013
LENGTH: 3 minutes (996 words)