In Search of Fear

High-wire artist Philippe Petit reflects on a lifetime of fear — its sound, its body language, and how to eliminate the taste of fear from your mouth: “To fear in life is human. And difficult to avoid. And a rude awakening each time. If it seizes you, be proud of your fifteen minutes of fear.”

Published: Jun 13, 2017
Length: 7 minutes (1,950 words)

How to Cross a Field of Snow

While on a trip hunting for bison on the Canadian tundra, Robert Moor recounts the uncanny horror of the blank, white landscape. It’s a familiar feeling for him, similar to the terror felt by any artist facing the blank white page: “The creative abyss is a snowy field”

Published: Mar 22, 2017
Length: 20 minutes (5,000 words)

Brontosaurs Whistling in the Dark

Reflections on Angela Merkel’s and Germany’s attitude toward refugees, from a daughter of refugees who themselves fled Germany in the 1930.

Published: Jan 1, 2017
Length: 35 minutes (8,759 words)

By Reason of Insanity

The high-profile murder trial that led to America’s first successful insanity plea: It involved a congressman who shot a man he believed was having an affair with his wife.

Source: Hazlitt
Published: May 22, 2015
Length: 7 minutes (1,850 words)

The Nun’s Story

The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk was a bestselling book about sexual abuse in a convent, and it became one of the great literary frauds of the 19th century.

Published: Apr 17, 2015
Length: 7 minutes (1,760 words)

Enemy Aliens

The forgotten history of World War I internment camps, and the story of imprisoned Austrian painter Paul Cohen-Portheim.

Published: Dec 28, 2014
Length: 16 minutes (4,008 words)

One of Us

Memories of being a Southie kid and black in a mostly white neighborhood.

Source: Boston Magazine
Published: Oct 28, 2014
Length: 14 minutes (3,525 words)

Reelin’ in the Years

Reconsidering Virginia Woolf’s time-warping novel Orlando, “the longest and most charming love letter in literature.”

Published: Oct 15, 2014
Length: 14 minutes (3,514 words)

Once Upon a Time in the West

How Mark Twain turned frontier humor into literature:

It wasn’t easy. The notion that literature could emerge from the frontier’s barbaric yawp encountered violent resistance from America’s literary establishment. It didn’t help that tall tales abounded in vulgarity, drunkenness, and depravity, not to mention perversions of proper English that would make a schoolteacher gasp. Proving the literary power of the frontier would be a central part of Twain’s legacy, and a pie in the face of the New England dons who had dominated the country’s high culture for much of the nineteenth century. He wasn’t immune to wanting their approval, but he came from a very different tradition. His ear hadn’t been trained at Harvard or Yale; it was tuned to the myriad voices of slaves and scoundrels, boatmen and gamblers.

Published: Mar 21, 2014
Length: 14 minutes (3,653 words)

Swiping Right in the 1700s: The Evolution of Personal Ads

Our latest Longreads Member Pick, by Noga Arikha, author of Passions and Tempers, on the the history of personal ads. The essay was first published in Lapham’s Quarterly.

Published: Feb 21, 2014
Length: 12 minutes (3,200 words)