The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

This week, we’re sharing stories from Skip Hollandsworth, Kory Grow and Jason Newman, Jordan Kisner, Clare Fieseler, and Jessica Klein.

Here are five stories that moved us this week, and the reasons why.

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1. The Notorious Mrs. Mossler

Skip Hollandsworth | Texas Monthly | November 17, 2021 | 12,033 words

Candace Mossler, mother of six, was a Houston socialite who lived in a mansion with a steam-heated pool. She loved to throw lavish parties. Charm and philanthropy were the super powers Mossler used to divert attention from rumours of a double life that included sex work, running her own escort service, and a clandestine affair with Mel Powers, her then 22-year-old nephew. The affair was heinous enough, but did Mossler conspire to commit murder — more than once? For this surreal whodunnit — complete with a salacious sideshow trial — Skip Hollandsworth pored over pages of old news clips, court records, and interviewed aging people in Mossler’s orbit to attempt to find out. “Rarely had circumstances converged to produce such a sensational story, one that, as the Houston Chronicle put it, was teeming with ‘love, heat, greed, savage passion, intrigue, incest and perversion.’” —KS

2. Marilyn Manson: The Monster Hiding in Plain Sight

Kory Grow and Jason Newman | Rolling Stone | November 14, 2021 | 9,777 words

This is a piece about Brian Warner, aka Marilyn Manson, a pseudonym chosen to combine the names of Marilyn Monroe and Charles Manson. In naming himself “after a serial killer and a woman who had a very tragic life,” Warner gave us a big clue into his psyche — but it was only this year that women began naming him as an abuser, unflinchingly documented here by Kory Grow and Jason Newman. For decades, the media “has amplified and glamorized his voice — including Rolling Stone, which put him on the cover in 1997 with the headline ‘Sympathy for the Devil.’” But at some point, Warner “got caught in a state of arrested development and embraced ‘Marilyn Manson’ as a lifestyle.” This is a detailed account of the depravity of that life, and an honest appraisal of Warner’s character. —CW

3. Inside Jane Campion’s Cinema of Tenderness and Brutality

Jordan Kisner | The New York Times Magazine | November 16, 2021 | 4,900 words

When I saw Jane Campion’s last movie, I cried so fiercely and for so long that, by the time my now-husband guided me out of the theater, the lights had been on for a solid 10 minutes and teenaged employees in red vests had finished sweeping popcorn from the aisles. In her profile of Campion, Jordan Kisner captures what made me feel those Big Feelings: The director’s singular ability to portray cruelty and warmth, dark and light in equal measure, not with choreographed action, but with the sheer, simple force of human presence. Kisner’s story is an intimate conversation with a once-in-a-generation artist and a close, careful reading of her oeuvre. I enjoyed it so much I could cry. —SD

4. To Catch a Turtle Thief

Clare Fieseler | The Walrus | November 12, 2021 | 3,490 words

In 2014, 11 baby diamondback terrapin turtles were found inside a FedEx package at the Calgary International Airport. This discovery eventually led authorities to Dave Sommers, a poacher who had trafficked thousands of hatchlings within the U.S. and abroad, to places like Canada, Mexico, and China where the prized turtle can sell for much more. ($24,000 for one with a fancy shell pattern, in fact!) This wild, cinematic story, with excellent reporting from Clare Fieseler, is a fascinating dive inside an international wildlife smuggling operation, and a look at how one New Jersey man’s “weird obsession” turned dark. —CLR

5. The Bored Apes take Manhattan

Jessica Klein | Input | November 16, 2021 | 3,444 words

Some subculture pieces bring you inside a community you never knew existed. Others offer a glimpse into a community you’ve heard of but had little sense of the nuances contained therein. And still others leave you with a sense of having attended a convention of emperors thrilled with their new clothes. That’s the vibe of Jessica Klein’s ridealong through Apefest, a gathering of people whose defining characteristic is owning a verifiable jpeg of a cartoon simian. (If you’ve been wondering what the hell an NFT is, please consult the previous sentence.) With each subsequent bearded white thirtysomething millionaire-on-paper you meet, your sense only intensifies that you’re witnessing the newest iteration of Beanie Babies — just one that boasts fans like Jimmy Fallon, and features Neil Strauss writing a memoir of a make-believe ape named Jenkins. Klein knows what she’s got here, and assiduously avoids the impulse to snark, instead letting dudes named Digging4Doge do the talking. Thankfully, they’re more than willing to do so. Enjoy your glimpse now, before the apes get so bored they depreciate precipitously and these crypto bros have to find a new reason to fist-bump. —PR