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It's Adventure Time

The writer spends some time with the creators of "Adventure Time"—a wildly popular animated TV series on the Cartoon Network—to discuss what makes the show so magical:

We began by talking about humor. Children’s humor, I suggested, is commonly thought of as a kind of “diversion” from fear or sadness. But Adventure Time confronts very dark themes head on: The apocalypse, the possibility of loss and pain, grief and mortality. Yet somehow it makes these grave things seem so simple, unthreatening, even hilarious.

“It’s funnier when you’re sad, I think,” he said. “I’ve heard laughter is releasing stress from your body, like when you go, ’HA! Haaaa!’—you know, you get it out of you. My favorite kind of humor is dark comedies, because I think, mmm… I guess that’s my personality, maybe I’m more cynical about things, so I laugh stuff off easily, and life is really scary?"

PUBLISHED: April 15, 2014
LENGTH: 45 minutes (11383 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories this week, featuring the New York Times Magazine, New Yorker, Tin House, The Awl and The Walrus.
PUBLISHED: March 14, 2014

Inside The Barista Class

A former barista examines service work and the difficult transition into the creative class:

My kind of service work is not the kind of service work that puts you in the back room washing dishes for 12-hour shifts for dollars because you are considered completely expendable. But my kind of service work is part of the same logic that indiscriminately razes neighborhoods. It outsources the emotional and practical needs of the oft-fetishized, urban-renewing "creative" workforce to a downwardly mobile middle class, reducing workers’ personality traits and educations to a series of plot points intended to telegraph a zombified bohemianism for the benefit of the rich.

PUBLISHED: March 11, 2014
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5621 words)

Showtime, Synergy

Our latest Longreads Member Pick is now free for everyone: Matt Siegel’s love story about identity, sex and finding companionship:

It was an acquaintance and former editor of one of those gay lifestyle magazines who advised twenty-year-old me to tone it down if I ever wanted to find a boyfriend. This coming from a man obsessed with anything Disney-related; the walls of his West Hollywood condo adorned with carefully framed Snow White and Fantasia animation cels. “You don’t need to tell them how much you love Belinda Carlisle on your first date,” he said. “But I do love Belinda Carlisle! That quavering vibrato!” I whined. “Well,” he said, “they’ll find out eventually, and by that point they will love you, Belinda and all.” While I hate(d) him for saying it, I understood the algorithm: gay men are attracted to men, so the more you resemble a man, the more desirable you will be to a gay man. [Insert frowny face emoticon.]

PUBLISHED: March 4, 2014
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7343 words)

Showtime, Synergy: Exclusive Early Access to a New Story from The Awl and Matt Siegel

This week, we are excited to give Longreads Members exclusive early access to a new story from Matt Siegel, to be published next week on The Awl. Here’s more from The Awl co-founder and editor Choire Sicha:

“Matt Siegel’s very funny nonfiction story of love, deceit and betrayal (oh my God, I know!!!) comes on all unassuming and conversational. Unlike many citizens of the MFA world (Matt’s a recent graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program), he keeps his techniques hidden. We’re really looking forward to publishing this at The Awl, but we’re more thrilled to share it with Longreads Members—like ourselves!—first.”
Siegel (@unabashedqueer) has previously written for The Huffington Post, The Hairpin, Flaunt Magazine, and The Advocate.

Become a Longreads Member to get the story

Longreads Members, login here to start reading

PUBLISHED: March 2, 2014
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7343 words)

I Was A Love-Letter Ghostwriter

The writer on working on art piece called the "Love Letter Project," in which she ghostwrote love letters fro strangers:

I listened until he was finished talking. Then I arranged the sentences he’d spoken on the page. It was more like transcribing than writing.

I will never in my life not regret that we didn't work things out. I will never let go. I don't want to.

At the front of the room was a small table with a printer, envelopes, pens and stamps. "You may sign your letter," Jana told him and he did. "Would you like a stamp so you can mail it? Or we can mail it for you." He took the stamp and addressed the envelope, but wasn’t quite committed enough to let us mail it. His feelings had been so close to the surface. We had happened to catch him at the perfect moment.

But it kept happening like that.

PUBLISHED: Jan. 30, 2014
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2040 words)

Looking Back on 'The X-Files': A Reading List

This week's picks from Emily include stories from The A.V. Club, The Awl, The Hairpin, and Grantland.
PUBLISHED: Jan. 26, 2014

Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our story picks of the week, from the Dallas Morning News, Narratively, The Atlantic, The Awl and GQ, with a guest pick by Rebecca Hiscott.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 1, 2013

Why Is America Turning To Shit?

A look at the culture and politics of something we all do: poop:

Consider the difficulties of your everyday life if you had to wade through wet fields or even an idyllic garden to get to a leafy area to shit or to an outhouse to take a crap, and if you couldn’t simply flush it away with a quick movement of the hand but had to worry about the sanitary requirements of seeing that the shit didn’t simply turn into a disease-harboring pile or smear your clothes or return with you into the home.

Consider what your day would look like if you had to go in a bucket, constantly rake over your own shit and that of others, being careful to cover it with enough composting material so that it didn’t simply turn into, well, a pile of shit that, again, spread disease amongst everyone in your household.

For many millions of people, shit is not something you hold on to but rapidly want to get away from, as soon as you’re done. For the eager shit activists in cities like Chicago and New York, composting is a way to prove their fealty to the planet or their credibility.

PUBLISHED: Oct. 30, 2013
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6409 words)