The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Photo: doug88888, Flickr

Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.

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1. Who Wants to Shoot an Elephant?

Wells Tower | GQ | June 4, 2014 | 32 minutes (8,196 words)

The writer joins a Texas couple on an elephant hunt in Botswana and questions whether a regulated hunting industry could help the elephant population in the country:

“If he charges, I’m gonna shoot him,” Robyn says. The entourage begins a dainty heel-to-toe march into the spiky undergrowth. As it turns out, it is not one elephant but two. One is the big, old, shootable bull. The other is a younger male. Elephants never stop growing, a meliorative aspect of which (elephant-hunt-misgivings-wise) is that the mongo bulls that hunters most want to shoot also happen to be the oldest animals, usually within five or so years of mandatory retirement, when elephants lose their last set of molars and starve to death.

For the record, this detail does not soothe me as the guns make their way toward the elephants under the tree. I have not yet figured out how to dislike elephants enough to want to see one shot. In private treason against my hosts, I am thinking, Not now, not now. Let it please not get shot today.

2. Being Gay in Iran

Farhad Dolatizadeh | The Stranger | June 1, 2014 | 11 minutes (2,984 words)

What happens when a young man in Iran is outed by a documentary:

“May I ask you something personal?”

I know what’s coming.

I look at my aunt as she takes her time to assemble the correct words. She is a tiny, sweet woman wearing a loosely draped head scarf, staring at me with shining dark-brown eyes. I love her more dearly than anything in the world. Of course I will tell her the truth. I can’t think of a reason to hide from her. It isn’t as if she might murder me or run around spreading my secret. She’s not one of those closed-minded, brainwashed people who would automatically judge me. She spent most of her life outside of Iran, living and working as an architect in Norway and Germany. If there is anyone out there who would understand me, it’s her.

“Are you gay, Feri Kitty?” she asks.

3. Can’t Do It Alone

Jessica Mayrer | Missoula Independent | May 15, 2014 | 14 minutes (3,672 words)

Susan Cahill lost everything when her clinic was vandalized. Now western Montana risks losing one of its only abortion providers.

Moving men carry a small white refrigerator into a truck parked outside, then return for a large plastic bin full of forceps and speculums. The equipment will remain in storage until Cahill decides whether to use them again. Following the break-in and the calculated dismantling of her professional equipment and personal items, Cahill, 64, has yet to decide if she’ll ever return to the Flathead Valley practice she’s built up over the course of her career.

4. Opportunity’s Knocks

Eli Saslow | Washington Post | May 31, 2014 | 22 minutes (5,646 words)

The fastest growing job in America—working as a nurse aide—is also among the hardest. The reporter follows a single mother hoping to find a stable job and build a better life for her family:

“I’m getting desperate, to be honest,” she told her classmates. “I need something good to happen. I’m hoping this might be it.”

Her hope was placed in the fastest-growing job in America – cornerstone of the recovery, what government economists referred to as “the opportunity point” in the greatest economy in the world. It was changing bedpans, pushing wheelchairs, cleaning catheters and brushing teeth. Pay was just better than minimum wage. Burnout rates were among the highest of any career.

5. Jimmy Iovine: The Man With the Magic Ears

David Fricke | Rolling Stone | 2012 | 26 minutes (6,628 words)

An in-depth 2012 interview with the music mogul turned Apple employee, on how he began his career, working in the studio with John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty:

Did engineering for Spector and Lennon prepare you for Springsteen’s vision of a wall of sound?

With John, I learned to make sure the band felt right around the vocal. That’s how you get the take, not the other way around. You don’t get the music and then sing it. On [U2’s] Rattle and Hum, I wouldn’t record the take unless Bono was there. I didn’t care if he had words or not. I wanted to hear his voice, the moment where it all connects.

I learned all about that power. You can’t really pick out what’s playing. But if you listen closely, you can hear each instrument. Phil called that a wall. Bruce wanted that. My whole life became about that. It was brutally painful, feeling like we were never going to get there. This is beyond all our grasps, what this guy has in his head. We were all deathly afraid of Springsteen.