Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg's unlikely collaboration with Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was arrested and asked to provide evidence at Nuremberg against war criminals:
"In subsequent interviews he continued the story: 'I had this warrant for her in my pocket. It was like burning a hole in my pocket … Finally I took the thing out and said, ‘Miss Riefenstahl, I'm sorry, but I have to take you to Nuremberg.' And that's when she screamed, "Puppi, Puppi … he's arresting me."' The little majordomo raced into the room, with Schulberg now realizing he was her husband. 'I tried to reassure her,' Schulberg continued. 'I said, "Look, you're not being put on trial with Goering and von Ribbentrop, but we do need you as a material witness."' He took her outside, where his driver and his vehicle awaited. The trip from Kitzbühel to Nuremberg was roughly 150 miles. 'She didn't say anything on the way ... She was very ticked off—very. And I guess scared.'"
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6763 words)
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3719 words)
[Fiction] A grieving teen and his friend look for a place to drink:
"'Hey, you know what? Roy’s grandparents were Nazis.' Phillip leaned back and took a drink from his beer and put an arm around Veronica. 'I’m not even kidding. Tell them. Tell them about that time you found the swastika armbands and all that shit in your grandpa’s closet.'
"It was something I thought I had seen once, and maybe I had or I hadn’t, I wasn’t sure, and when I tried to remember what I had seen in that closet, and I put myself back in that room, all I could smell was talcum powder and see my grandma standing at the window, stiff and straight, staring out at nothing in the weak light, her back to me, the tears streaming because I had said it, I had said names, called her things, told her how my mother would disappear every time she got off the phone with her, my grandmother with her thick accent and twisted language, harsh, guttural, clipped through the phone, and for seventeen years I never once remembered my mother asking me how I felt—not once—how do you feel? Because feelings, she said, were lies. The only truth was in what you could see."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 28, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6676 words)
[Fiction] An elderly woman encounters her past at her nursing home:
"A beautiful day—even though Elise can smell chickens from the poultry complex down the road and exhaust from the interstate, even though the pear trees in this so-called orchard bear no fruit. The mums are in bloom. Bees glitter above the beds. And a skinny man comes toward her, showing off his mastery of the strap-on LIMBs.
"'Elise.' He squints at her. 'You still got it. Prettiest girl at Eden Village.'
"She flashes her dentures but says nothing."
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2012
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6494 words)
A kung fu master looks for new disciples to pass on his wisdom:
"Dr. Yang had never had difficulty attracting students in the past—YMAA, the Boston-based organization he founded in 1982, operates more than 60 martial arts schools worldwide—but after more than 25 years, Dr. Yang was growing tired of doling out his ancient teachings piecemeal. If he died, only fragments of that knowledge would survive.
"His dream was to transfer his entire legacy to a new generation in one fat chunk. But the legacy—white crane kung fu—was locked in his sinews, and the transfer would take time: 10 years, by his estimate, at the rate of six days per week. At the end of 10 years, Dr. Yang would be in his 70s and at the end of his ability to teach kung fu. It’s this urgency that explained the almost neurotic vigor he brought to his search for worthy disciples. He couldn’t risk investing effort in anyone who might bow out before the training was complete."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 7, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4086 words)
Our latest Exclusive comes from author Elissa Schappell
, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair
and co-founder and editor at large of Tin House
, which is where she published "How the Light Gets In"—a story about a life changed by seizures. (Subscribe to Longreads to receive this and other exclusives.
"To say it is a curse would be to lie. This is what I wrote in my journal in 1993, when I was twenty-nine. The handwriting is tiny and childlike, recognizable to no one but me as the way I wrote only after suffering a temporal lobe seizure. The brain's temporal lobes, situated over each ear, swoop back from the temples like the wings on the thunder god's helmet, which is fitting, given the ominous auras that sometimes rumble through my brain before a seizure.
"However, they don't always portend a terrible storm, and while 'suffering' accurately depicts 99 percent of my seizures, 1 percent have been transcendent."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 1, 2011
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3760 words)
An examination of authors Gore Vidal and Terry Southern's literary erotica:
"Gore Vidal was a friend and admirer of Terry Southern, calling him 'the most profoundly witty writer of our generation' and he could not have failed to have had the example of Candy in mind as he embarked on his own adventure in black-humored sexual satire, Myra Breckinridge. Like Candy, the book had its inception in a high-porn enterprise: Kenneth Tynan had asked Vidal to contribute a sketch to his planned erotic review Oh Calcutta! But as soon as he set to work, the mysterious sentence 'I am Myra Breckinridge whom no man will ever possess' sprang to mind and Vidal knew he was heading somewhere else entirely. The book became an outrageous theater of polymorphous perversity, a heady cocktail of Aristophanes, Marcuse, and Nietzsche married to an encyclopedic knowledge of the American cinema of the thirties and forties."
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2003
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2188 words)