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Why Karen Carpenter Matters

Karent and Richard Carpenter performing on the BBC's 'In Concert' series. Tony Russell/Redferns

Karen Tongson | Why Karen Carpenter Matters | University of Texas Press | May 2019 | 20 minutes (4,070 words)


Maria Katindig-Dykes and her husband, Jimmie Dykes, had finished a six-month stint at the Hyatt Regency in Singapore and were about to wrap up a six-month residency at the Playboy Jazz Club at Silahis International Hotel in Manila when a telegram appeared under the door early one morning in our Manila suite. It was for Jimmie: MOTHER ILL. CALL HOME. It was sent by his older brother Lee.

My dad called home to find out that his mother, Marion Dykes — the woman who sternly scattered the kids taunting me on the lawn during my first visit to Riverside, California; the woman who plied me with my very first taste of stewed tomatoes — was dying of brain cancer. It was late January 1983, and we made our preparations to leave Manila, unsure of whether or not we would return right away, or ever. I remember turning to my mom on one of the first nights we were in Riverside and asking her in Tagalog if we were ever going back home. She said she didn’t know, and we both cried quietly so as not to interrupt the other more urgent processes of loss and mourning happening under the same roof.

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A Single Sentence

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Ahmet Altan | translated from the Turkish by Yasemin Çongar | an excerpt adapted from I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer | Other Press | October 2019 | 9 minutes (2,482 words)


The following essay, like all those collected in I Will Never See the World Again, was smuggled out of jail among Ahmet Altan’s notes to his lawyers.


I woke up. The doorbell was ringing. I looked at the digital clock by my side, the numbers were blinking 05:42.

“It’s the police,” I said.

Like all dissidents in this country, I went to bed expecting the ring of the doorbell at dawn.

I knew one day they would come for me. Now they had. Read more…

The Girl I Didn’t Save

Woman's spirit ascending to Heaven (1883) / Getty, Lookout Press

Cameron Dezen Hammon| Longreads | excerpt from This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession | September 2019 | 24 minutes (6,521 words)


“She’s saying ‘thank you’ when she blinks like that,” Hannah’s mother says.

Hannah is dying. She lies in her bed, in her bedroom, surrounded by cards and flowers. Her mother sits on the edge of the bed, stroking her hand. Hannah’s husband of one month is beside her, propped against pillows, cross-legged. A few close friends are here as well—they sit against the wall, knees pulled to chests, or lean against the window ledge. Every few seconds Hannah’s ribcage rises in a struggle for breath.

Matt and I met Hannah three years after Budapest, while we were working for the young Baptist at Koinonia. It was the first church we worked for with a congregation comprised of people roughly our own age, and Hannah, twenty-seven, fit perfectly into its little galaxy of artists, lawyers, and schoolteachers. She flitted easily between groups of friends, always smiling. The pastor often calls Hannah his favorite, but no one minds. Hannah is everyone’s favorite.
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Editor’s Roundtable: Democracy Needs Healing Crystals

Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

On our September 27, 2019 roundtable episode of the Longreads Podcast, Head of Audience Catherine Cusick, Head of Fact-Checking Matt Giles, and Contributing Editor Aaron Gilbreath share what they’ve been reading and nominate stories for the Weekly Top 5 Longreads.

This week, the editors discuss stories in The New Yorker, The Guardian, and Politico.

Subscribe and listen now everywhere you get your podcasts.

0:45 Will Hunter Biden Jeopardize His Father’s Campaign? (Adam Entous, July 1, 2019, The New Yorker)

13:33 Dark Crystals: The Brutal Reality Behind a Booming Wellness Craze (Tess McClure, September 17, 2019, The Guardian)

21:36 These 5 Places Tried Bold Political Experiments. Did They Work? (Amelia Lester, Jill Filipovic, Todd N. Tucker, Astra Taylor, Ruairi Arrieta-Kenna, September 21, 2019, Politico)

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Produced by Longreads and Charts & Leisure.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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This week, we’re sharing stories from Prachi Gupta, Tess McClure, Anna Wiener, Ismail Muhammad, and Alex McLevy.

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Where Am I?

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

Heather Sellers True Story | April 2019 | 44 minutes (8,983 words)


I was on my way home, flying from New York back to Florida. In the heart of Manhattan, I had given a keynote address to a large group of researchers at Rockefeller University. Internationally known neuroscientists, men and women at the top of their field, had been interested in what I had to say. I still couldn’t believe how well it had gone.

When we landed in Tampa, the plane, full of Disney-bound families and snow birds, nosed up to the gate, and I strode down the jet bridge. Confident and successful in my big-city clothes — black boots, black tights, black silk tunic — I followed the stream of passengers ahead of me as we made our way past the gates.

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Editor’s Roundtable: Fans, ‘Grams and Installment Plans

The Wing in Boston. (Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

On our September 20, 2019 roundtable episode of the Longreads Podcast, Essays Editor Sari Botton, Head of Audience Catherine Cusick, and Culture Columnist Soraya Roberts share what they’ve been reading and nominate stories for the Weekly Top 5 Longreads.  

This week, the editors discuss stories in Inc., The Cut, and The Baffler.

Subscribe and listen now everywhere you get your podcasts.

6:52The Wing Has $118 Million in Funding, Superfans Like Meryl Streep, and Plenty of Skeptics. It’s Just Getting Started.” (Christine Lagorio-Chafkine, October 2019, Inc.)

17:28Who Would I Be Without Instagram?” (Tavi Gevinson, September 16, 2019, The Cut)

26:00 “Revolution on the Installment Plan.” (Jessa Crispin, Sept/Oct 2019, The Baffler)

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Produced by Longreads and Charts & Leisure.

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

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This week, we’re sharing stories from Emily Giambalvo, Maureen Tkacik, Zuzana Justman, Jennifer Colville, and Roshani Chokshi.

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Communiqué from an Exurban Satellite Clinic of a Cancer Pavilion Named after a Financier

Mannequins modeling a wig and a cooling accessory to be worn under a wig by someone undergoing chemotherapy. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Anne Boyer | an excerpt adapted from The Undying| Farrar, Straus and Giroux | September 2019 | 14 minutes (3,665 words)


Pull your hair out by the handfuls in socially distressing locations: Sephora, family court, Bank of America, in whatever location where you do your paid work, while in conversation with the landlord, at Leavenworth prison, however in the gaze of men. Negotiate for what you need because you will need it now more than ever. If these negotiations fail, yank your hair out of your head in front of who would deny you, leave clumps of your hair in the woods, on the prairies, in QuikTrip parking lots, in front of every bar at which your conventionally feminine appearance earned you and your friends pitchers of domestic beer.

Put your head out the window of the car and let the wind blow the hair off your head. Let your friends harvest locks of your hair to give to other friends to leave in socially distressing locations: to scatter at ports, at national monuments, inside the architecture built to make ordinary people feel small and stupid, to throw against harassers on the streets.

Pull your pubic hair out in clumps from the root and send it in unmarked envelopes to technocrats. Leave your armpit hair at the Superfund site you once lived near, your nose hairs for any human resources officer who denies you leave. Read more…

Tramp Like Us

Photo by Alia Smith, courtesy of the author / Little, Brown and Company

Dan Kois | excerpted from How to Be a Family | Little, Brown and Company | September 2019 | 24 minutes (6,373 words)


“Is there a way I could chaperone,” I asked my daughter’s teacher, “that doesn’t include snorkeling in freezing-cold water?”

We were in New Zealand to learn how the lives of Kiwi families differed from our own east coast suburban bubble. One way, it turned out, was that my 9-year-old was taking a school field trip to snorkel in the little bay by our house in Wellington. It was an example of EOTC, education outside the classroom, a crucial part of Kiwi schooling, ranging from day trips like this to secondary-school tramps across the Tongoriro Alpine Crossing.

When I’d volunteered to chaperone, I hadn’t known that chaperones were expected to bring their own wet suits in order to get in the water with the kids. Now, I like snorkeling, but the very idea of owning my own wet suit was patently absurd. So that’s why I asked if there was some other way I could help.

“On the snorkeling trip?” she replied dubiously. “Errr . . . we do need a few people to stand at the shore keeping an eye on everyone. Perhaps you could do that?”
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