Here are five stories we recommend this week. Visit our editors’ picks to browse more recommendations, and sign up for our weekly newsletter if you haven’t already

1. A Child Star at 7, in Prison at 22. Then She Vanished. What Happened to Lora Lee Michel?*

Stacy Perman | Los Angeles Times | May 19, 2022 | 10,548 words

Barbara Wright Isaacs has been looking for her sister, Lora Lee Michel, for nearly 55 years. What makes her disappearance particularly baffling: Lora Lee once had the eyes of the world on her. In the ’40s, she appeared in films alongside Humphrey Bogart, Glenn Ford, and Olivia de Havilland. So what happened? Stacy Perman finds out in this meticulously researched piece for the Los Angeles Times, brought to life with photos and film clips of the adorable, precocious child star. Beginning with the well-known half of Lora Lee’s life, the story races along at whip-cracking speed, twisting and turning, before culminating in a high-profile custody battle between Lora Lee’s biological and adoptive mother. When Lora Lee leaves Hollywood for Texas, aged 10, things become hazier, forcing Perman to resort to her own research. By tracking down dozens of individuals and public records, she finds, as she writes, “a woman lost in a maze of short marriages and perpetual misfortunes.” Perman takes Lora Lee’s sad tale back to Wright Isaacs. It’s not the story she had hoped for, but still closure on what happened to her sister. I was impressed by Perman’s dogged determination to find answers for this family — and more impressed that she did. —CW

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2. Two Weeks in Tehran

Azadeh Moaveni | London Review of Books | October 21, 2022 | 3,516 words

Over 200 people have been killed since September 16, 2022, when Iranians took to the streets to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in suspicious circumstances after being detained for not wearing her hijab to government standards. In this piece at the London Review of Books, Azadeh Moaveni recounts a hastily erected government billboard depicting notable Iranian women, all wearing a hijab under the slogan, “Women of Our Land.” The billboard was removed just as quickly as it appeared after several of the women featured rebuked the government and demanded their images be removed. The government had gone so far as to feature Nooshin Jafari, a photojournalist currently serving a prison sentence for “insulting state sanctities.” Despite the short-lived government propaganda campaign and amid ongoing protests and clashes, change is happening in Iran. “Morality policing lies in ruins. No one knows what senior politicians are hearing from their wives, sisters and daughters, but never have the Islamic Republic’s political elite and its most dogmatic constituencies looked so divided at a time of crisis.” —KS

3. Eminem Found Himself in “Lose Yourself.” Will We Ever Let It Go?

Jake Kring-Schreifels | The Ringer | November 3, 2022 | 4,500 words

I really wish this piece had come out any other week. Days ago, Atlanta rapper Takeoff — who as a teen helped create Migos’ trendsetting triplet flow — was fatally shot at the tender age of 28. He’s the artist we should be discussing right now; he’s whose influential work we should be remembering. There have been some wonderful pieces already published praising him, and hopefully, the longform elegy he deserves will be published in the coming days. So it feels fraught, to say the least, to instead recommend this long Ringer feature detailing the creation and legacy of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” But anniversaries gonna anniversary, and if you thought The Ringer wasn’t going to commemorate the 20th birthday of Eight Mile and its soundtrack, you haven’t been paying attention. And truthfully, Jake Kring-Schreifels reported the hell out of this thing, tracing the song’s evolution from Eminem’s metanarrative writing approach to its Oscar-worthy musical construction, while also illustrating its seismic impact. We’ve heard it in sports arenas for 20 years now, and will likely be hearing it for at least another 20; until then, this is a fascinating look at how an anthem happens. —PR

4. Swamp Boy

Kris Newby | Now This and Epic Magazine | October 27, 2022 | 7,784 words

Fourteen-year-old Michael suddenly starts to experience inexplicable psychotic episodes. He tells his father he’s the son of the devil. He claims his tabby cat is possessed by demons. Believing he’s no longer human, he says he’s becoming “Swamp Thing,” a green monster on one of the posters on his wall. As his condition worsens, Michael is diagnosed with schizophrenia multiple times, but his father refuses to accept the diagnosis, believing that there could be another trigger to his son’s mysterious illness. In a riveting piece that’s illustrated with comic book art by Mado Peña, Kris Newby retells this family’s hellish 18-month journey to uncover the cause. —CLR

5. A Touch of Moss

Nikita Arora | Aeon | September 8, 2022 | 4,549 words

This beautiful essay is a letter of recommendation to go out and touch moss. Yes, the soft green stuff growing on walls and rocks and trees, patches and carpets that grow at a glacial pace, that harken back to an ancient, pre-human world. But Nikita Arora isn’t recommending that readers commune with moss because it’s good for the soul to connect with nature — that’s too pat, too easy. Rather, Arora urges a reimagining of what it means for humans to touch the world around us. “Touch” comes from toche, French for “blow” or “attack,” and as Arora elucidates, the ability to touch has often been an extension of power and its attendant violence. “Perhaps the apparent superficiality of touch is the fiction,” Arora writes. “The histories (colonial, racial, elitist) of human relationships with the nonhuman may have whitewashed and pigeonholed touch and its potential for radical reciprocity and for reckoning with the past and the present.” —SLD

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