Search Results for: Emily Perper

On Pointe: Reading on Ballet

It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that my parents admitted I was a decidedly terrible five-year-old ballerina. It was no great blow to learn I sucked at something I hadn’t attempted in two decades; as I grew older, I was burned by athletic endeavors generally and found my confidence in books and academic success instead. But if my loving parents observed my lack of grace onstage, that meant my teacher, my classmates, and the entire audience at our ballet recital definitely noticed, and that stung a bit.

There’s something enticing about the rigorous structure of the ballet world, the gamble of hard work paying off. With ballet, you have an identity, inside jokes, long hours, and people who get you — camaraderie. I craved that sense of belonging, from the first day of kindergarten through my failed sorority rushes in college. It’s the seduction of security, of always having someone to sit with, always having someplace to be. I wanted to rest in the knowledge that I was accepted and validated, especially by talented women.

These days, I love absorbing ballet via pop culture and the occasional live performance. I obsessed over Dance Academy on Netflix, and Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild is one of my all-time favorite books. If I could pick one magic power, forget flight or invisibility — I’d choose dance.

1. “The Afterlife of a Ballerina.” (Alice Robb, Elle, October 2016)

Alice Robb’s profile of Alexandra Ansanelli chronicles her meteoric rise onstage and offers a fascinating inside look at how her personality and psyche were shaped by her rigorous and often isolating training. From online dating to her day job, Ansanelli shares how she struggled to assimilate into civilian life after retiring from ballet at age 28.

2. “Talent Isn’t Enough When You’re a Fat Ballerina.” (Olivia Campbell, Catapult, May 2018)

I know how tough it is to live with regret, how easy it is to get sucked into the “what if” depression spiral. Olivia Campbell’s “what ifs” swirl around her past as a “semi-professional dancer” and which bodies are deemed acceptable and beautiful in ballet. Hers wasn’t.

3. “The Ballerina Who Accused Her Instructor of Sexual Assault.” (Jessica Luther, BuzzFeed News, December 2016)

Over a year before #MeToo permeated the international conversation, journalist Jessica Luther reported on ballerina Lissa Curtis’ exceedingly brave decision to hold her rapist — her former ballet instructor — accountable in court. I was moved by Curtis’ openness in discussing her PTSD and her healing process, especially her changing relationship to dance.

4. “Raising a Ballerina Will Cost You $100,000.” (Abby Abrams, FiveThirtyEight, August 2015)

Whew, the pointe shoes ALONE. $29,000?!

This assumes the student starts wearing pointe shoes in sixth grade — around the time that most ballet schools allow students to try them out — and buys shoes priced at about $80 per pair.4 My estimate assumes that a sixth-grader goes through a pair of shoes every three months. By seventh grade, she needs a new pair of pointe shoes after one month; by ninth grade that need increases to one each week; and by the time she is in 10th grade, I’ve accounted for her buying two pairs per week. That might sound like a lot of shoes, but dancers have assured me that these high numbers are about right.

On a more hopeful note, this piece offers insight into programs like Dance Theatre of Harlem and Project Plié make ballet more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

5. “Body on Fire.” (Amy Jo Burns, Tin House, November 2017)

As I read “Rust Belt ballerina” Amy Jo Burns’ essay, I felt the tug of something familiar. I wracked my brain, then I remembered: I’d encountered her writing in Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, an anthology edited by Roxane Gay. Though I read several pieces from Not That Bad during a quiet half-hour at work, Burns’ stuck with me especially; I’d like to write like her one day. I admired her clear-eyed, unsparing observations of how her attacker received few consequences and how her fellow survivors were vilified by their small town. In “Body on Fire,” Burns intersperses her own relationship to ballet with a powerful meditation on the life, art, and sexist biographing of Emma Livry, a young French ballerina who died after suffering burns from the stage’s gaslights.

Celebrating Pride: Where Religion and Queerness Meet

My city was one of many to hold a vigil in memory of the innocent lost to hatred and violence in Orlando a week ago. Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders spoke, one after the other, rallying the crowd into a frenzy of love. We lit candles and sang and prayed and cried. It did not resurrect 49 people.

I will be frank: I do not know how to live in the wake of this nightmare. I do not think I will ever feel normal again. As the poet Anne Carson puts it, “I felt as though the sky was torn off my life. I had no home in goodness anymore.” I stood on the steps of our police-protected vigil with my candle, afraid a hate-filled bullet would pierce the back of my skull. And if I, a white person, feel this afraid, then I cannot even begin to imagine what queer people of color, including queer Muslims, are feeling. I have included several of their stories in the list below. They need to be heard, loud and clear and often.

I’ve also included an interview with queer Hebrew priestess Rebekah Erev and an interview with bisexual Christian activist Eliel Cruz. Because of my work with youth in interfaith dialogue, I wanted to include representation from other Abrahamic religions. Queer people of all faith traditions deserve to know that they are not alone and that they are loved. Read more…

Longreads Best of 2015: Essays & Criticism

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in essays and criticism. Read more…

Longreads Best of 2017: Under-Recognized Stories

Here are the best stories we thought deserved more attention this year. If you like these, you can sign up to receive our weekly email every Friday.

Sari Botton
Essays editor, Longreads

How to Write Iranian-America, or The Last Essay (Porochista Khakpour, Catapult)

Women writers of color aren’t given enough opportunities, and too often when they are, the opportunity is limited. They’re asked, again and again, to write about aspects of their identity, and are rarely afforded chances to write about anything else. Writing in the second person, Porochista Khakpour helps the reader to imagine being an artist hemmed in by such limitations. She takes us through the arc of her career thus far: from deciding early on that she didn’t want to “write what you know,” as a mentor suggested; to becoming the Iranian-American essayist of choice every time certain publications wanted an opinion from that particular demographic; to deciding she was no longer willing to be limited in that way, but feeling conflicted nonetheless. As a fan of Kahkpour’s writing, I certainly hope this isn’t her last essay but instead marks the beginning of a new chapter in which she feels free to write about whatever she chooses.

Kate’s Still Here (Libby Copeland, Esquire)

I’ve reached an age where death — of friends, family, colleagues — has become a more regular occurrence. I’ve become slightly obsessed with it, but at the same time, remain afraid to discuss it and plan for it. It was refreshing and moving for me to read this feature by Libby Copeland about a couple who embraced the inevitable so boldly and lovingly. Copeland spends time with Kate and Deloy Oberlin as they consciously prepare for Kate’s death from metastatic breast cancer, and again in the aftermath of her passing. Deloy honors his wife’s wishes that once she’s gone, a gathering will be held where family and friends can visit with her body, chilled with dry ice and frozen water bottles. Afterward, he delivers her body to a site where it is composted as part of a study in green burial. I believe it might be impossible to get to the end of this piece without feeling warmed and shedding some tears.


Aaron Gilbreath
Contributing editor, Longreads

In the Land of Vendettas That Go on Forever (Amanda Petrusich, Virginia Quarterly Review)

Amanda Petrusich she traveled to Northern Albania to write about the culture of vengeance that guides the region’s sense of justice. Her story takes readers along rocky roads to mountain villages, but the real journey takes place inside the minds of the local people, whose ideas about justice require a vigilante, not the law, to kill a person who was involved in a murder. His eye-for-an-eye approach harkens back to early tribal times in the country. Perfectly mixing narration with analysis, the story ultimately asks philosophical questions: Does revenge really make up for a loss? What is justice? In a year when many of us eagerly watch special counsel Robert Mueller investigate a president who flaunts his disregard for the law, justice is on the forefront of our minds, except some of us want it to arrive through legal channels.


Matt Giles
Contributing editor and chief fact-checker, Longreads

Jumpin’ Joe (Robert Silverman, Victory Journal)

Much of sports discourse this year has centered on Colin Kaepernick. Thousands of words and hours of conversation have been unspooled on the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, his stance on athletes’ rights, and why the NFL has seemingly blacklisted the QB who nearly won a Super Bowl four years ago. But to understand the present, it helps to look to the past, and Silverman’s profile of Jumpin’ Joe Caldwell, a star forward with the ABA in the 1970s, is timely and worth highlighting. Caldwell was vice president of the league’s players union, and after a contentious episode with the management of the St. Louis Spirits, who believed Caldwell convinced Marvin Barnes, the team’s best player, to jettison to the NBA, Caldwell couldn’t land another contract in either league. Caldwell’s story is truly one of the first in which athletes sought the control they deserved from their employer, and though Silverman doesn’t overtly connect Caldwell’s situation to Kaepernick’s, the parallels are more than evident.


Ethan Chiel
Contributing editor and fact-checker, Longreads

The Immortal Life of John Tesh’s NBA Anthem “Roundball Rock” (David Roth, Vice)

The first time I heard John Tesh’s voice was in the passenger seat of my dad’s Mazda, driving through upstate New York as part of a road trip to visit colleges. Tesh was hosting his daily radio show and he was telling an interminable story with no point, but I ate that shit up. It was only later that I’d see the famous Red Rocks video David Roth mentions in his wonderful story about Tesh’s NBA on NBC anthem, or learn anything about that part of Tesh’s life. But through the story of that instrumental anthem — which remains a banger — and his conversation with Tesh, Roth manages to tease out the easygoing, very slightly anodyne, successful-yet-anonymous nature of Tesh’s work and life, as well as what makes him so bizarrely charming.


Ben Huberman
Senior editor, Longreads

The Age of Rudeness (Rachel Cusk, The New York Times Magazine)

Last February feels like centuries ago. There were still so many terrible things for us to endure in a year that had just started. Yet 10 months and 10,000 news cycles later, Rachel Cusk’s essay remains fresh and unsettling, like a prophecy in which the worst parts may or may not have already come true. Cusk looks at airport agents and shop assistants, Sophocles and Jesus, and yes, Trump makes an appearance too. Through this tangle of anecdotes, she channels something many of us have been feeling yet have failed to articulate: The sense that all previous protocols of basic social decency are broken, and that we’re still not sure how to handle the shards.


Catherine Cusick
Audience development editor, Longreads

The Selfie Monkey Goes to the Ninth Circuit (Sarah Jeong, Motherboard)

Humor never really felt like an option in such a serious year, but Jeong’s simian legal saga reminded me that humor shouldn’t be so disposable. Her story isn’t really about the monkey; it’s about who can rightfully be considered the “next friend” of an Internet-famous crested macaque. It’s about whether or not we can fight the good fight and giggle our way through it and still make a case for justice when it really matters. Bonkers things happened in 2017 — absurd, hilarious things — and not all of them were life-threatening or world-ending or rights-violating. (Unless monkeys have standing to sue under the Copyright Act. Then yeah, some violations went down.)

Humor is like taste-testing non-lethal poison: you never forget it. It’s what made Naruto stand out as the one monkey I clearly didn’t appreciate enough at the time. Most of what flew under the radar this year was probably funny, and I think missing out on that laughter cost us. But writing that has a punchline isn’t an indulgence, it’s a vitamin. We always need more of it than we think we do.


Emily Perper
Contributing editor, Longreads

Contemplating Death at the Edge of the Continent (Laura Turner, Catapult)

This year, I wrote rarely. Every time I put pen to paper or started to type, I began and ended in the same place, full of dread. Writing, which used to be a way to work through my fear, seemed only to reinforce it. And so I looked for writers who could say what I could not. Laura Turner was one of those writers. Her column at Catapult, “A Cure for Fear,” made me feel less alone. Every entry was poignant and true, in an eerie get-out-of-my-brain sort of way.

But my favorite essay of hers predates that column, and it’s called “Contemplating Death at the Edge of the Continent.” Maybe you, too, spiral into a panic when you think about the inevitability of dying. Many nights, I lie awake and hyperventilate while my partner sleeps peacefully next to me. Catapult published Turner’s essay on January 11, the week before Trump’s inauguration, and dying felt closer than ever this year. Would my death come via nuclear war with North Korea? Cancer I wouldn’t be able to treat when my healthcare disappeared? Assault at the hands of someone who hates trans people?

To come to terms with her own anxiety about The End, Turner sought out solitude at the New Camaldoli Hermitage on the Pacific coast. In addition to our shared chronic anxiety, Turner’s writing is infused with a Christian spirituality I recognize and appreciate deeply. I am a person of lapsed faith, but in these uncertain days, Christianity feels comforting in its familiarity. There are no neat answers. We have to sit with that — Turner in her quiet cell on the coast, me at my desk in my cold apartment. So I implore you to read Turner’s work — not just this essay, but her entire oeuvre about anxiety, because it is beautiful, authentic, and necessary.


Danielle Jackson
Contributing editor, Longreads

Eve Ewing: Other Means to Liberation (Kiese Laymon, Guernica)

This conversation between Laymon and poet and sociologist Eve Ewing on the publication of her well-received collection of poems Electric Arches, is spirited and wide-ranging. They talk through the policies that shaped the conditions of Chicago’s public schools, the migratory patterns of black Americans in the 20th century, and the case of Assata Shakur. What has stayed with me is how the sense of comfort and warmth between Ewing and Laymon makes space for them, and by extension, their audience, to imagine new ways of thinking, talking, and doing creative work.


Danielle Tcholakian
Staff writer, Longreads

How a Pearland Mom Changed Her Life to Save Her Transgender Child (Roxanna Asgarian, Houstonia Magazine)

It may seem strange to deem a story tweeted by the ACLU of Texas “under-recognized,” but Roxanna Asgarian’s feature on a devoutly religious, long-conservative Texas woman’s decision to give up her entire life — losing friends, family and community — and reconfigure her own identity to save her young transgender daughter’s life didn’t seem to generate the attention and discussion it deserved. Maybe it was because it came out in Houstonia’s December issue, maybe because the mother and daughter featured in it had also been written about by national outlets. But Asgarian did the crucial thing that local outlets do, after the national media parachutes in and back out again: She stayed on the story. Her account of Kimberly Shappley’s awakening and devotion to her daughter Kai spans years and is excruciating in its heartbreaking detail. I still wince and shudder thinking about the time Kimberly discovered Kai’s legs were cold while tucking her into bed, only to find her daughter — still called Joseph then — had taken too-small underpants from a toy doll and worn them herself, cutting off her own circulation. While national outlets heralded Kimberly’s heroism, Asgarian showed that their story, and their struggle, is far from over.

Before first grade started, Kai asked her mom a question. “She said, ‘Mommy, when I grow up and have really long hair, will I look weird that I have a penis?’” Shappley recalled. It started a long conversation between them about what makes someone beautiful, and about how everyone’s body is different. Kai seemed satisfied, but later, she followed up: Why, then, don’t princesses have penises?

“I said, ‘How do you know that? How do you know that Ariel wasn’t born with a penis? Because she didn’t like the body she was born in either, and so she changed her body to look like what she felt she was born to be.’”

Now, Shappley said, her and Kai’s “secret giggle-giggle” is that Ariel is transgender, and that other princesses might be, too, because “not everybody tells.”

“It’s constantly having to be an inventive parent, and being quick on your feet,” Shappley said. “But isn’t all parenting that way?”


Krista Stevens
Senior editor, Longreads

The Detective of Northern Oddities, (Christopher Solomon, Outside)

As someone who earns her living seated indoors, laptop in hand, I’m endlessly curious about people whose jobs are very different from mine. At Outside, Christopher Solomon profiles Kathy Burek, a veterinary pathologist who examines unusual deaths in the Alaskan animal kingdom. Elbow deep in bodily fluids, Burek works on everything from sea otters to polar bears, and her necropsies are revealing stunning evidence of climate change in the North that will soon find its way South. The fascinating science in Solomon’s beautiful prose made this a satisfying read.

When they captured her off Cohen Island in the summer of 2007, she weighed 58 pounds and was the size of a collie. The growth rings in a tooth they pulled revealed her age—eight years, a mature female sea otter.

They anesthetized her and placed tags on her flippers. They assigned her a number: LCI013, or 13 for short. They installed a transmitter in her belly and gave her a VHF radio frequency: 165.155 megahertz. Then they released her. The otter was now, in ­effect, her own small-wattage Alaskan ­radio station. If you had the right kind of ­antenna and a receiver, you could launch a skiff into Kachemak Bay, lift the antenna, and hunt the air for the music of her existence: an ­occasional ping in high C that was both solitary and reassuring amid the static of the wide world.


Michelle Legro
Senior editor, Longreads

The Painful Truth About Teeth (Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, The Washington Post)

Filling the Gap (John Stanton, Buzzfeed)

It’s almost hard to believe that the life and death battle over health care dominated the first half of this year, as stories about Medicare, Medicaid, pre-existing conditions, and outrageously expensive medications helped defeat the bill in Congress.

Among these dire stories there was a medical desperation still in the shadows: that of inadequate or nonexistent dental care. The Washington Post’s visit to an enormous mobile clinic on the Eastern Shore showed the lengths people were willing to go to in order to fix just one thing. And in a Mexican border town, John Stanton’s riveting reporting revealed a parallel economy thriving on the shoddy American healthcare system, one where patients — many of them Trump voters — cross the border for cheap dental procedures, if they can afford to make the trip. These stories were a stark reminder that medical care is about far more than life or death, it’s about living with dignity.


Mike Dang
Editor in chief, Longreads

Series on Children and Gun Violence (John Woodrow Cox, The Washington Post)

Whenever someone asked me for a story recommendation this year, I asked them if they were reading Cox’s Washington Post series on how children are being affected by gun violence in the U.S. They would either say “no” or would tell me, “Oh, I’ve seen that but haven’t gotten around to it yet.” Well, now is the time to read this stellar series that might have been overshadowed by so many other stellar reporting done this year.

Start here, and then go here, here, here, here and here. If you’ve only got time for one, in this piece Cox does a particularly good job of showing the trauma suffered by six teenagers following the Las Vegas shooting massacre. If I were on a committee handing out journalism awards, John Woodrow Cox would be on my list of honorees.

Longreads Best of 2016: Essays & Criticism

We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in essays and criticism.

* * *

Kiese Laymon
A Professor of English and Creative Writing at University of Mississippi, and author of forthcoming memoir, Heavy.

Chicago State of Mind (Derrick Harriell, LA Review of Books)

Derrick Harriell wrote a piece on Chicago State that challenged my understanding of what’s possible with form and content in the long lyric essay. The piece narrativizes educational place and the journey of learning in a beautiful black place that’s trying to survive.


Mira Ptacin
Writer whose work has appeared in NPR, New York Magazine, Guernica, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Tin House, The Rumpus, and more. Author of the memoir Poor Your Soul, and teacher of memoir to women at the Maine Correctional Center.

On Domestic Disobedience (A.N. Devers, The New Republic)

I nominate this sharp-eyed and insightful piece not only because it brilliantly gave us a taste of Claire-Louise Bennett’s collection, but it gives it its proper place in the family tree of nature-writers by blowing “nature-dude” writing out of the water. Devers shows readers how important and triumphantly Bennett’s penmanship is, even in its simplicity: how even writing about the goings-on in the microcosm of a kitchen can dip into great depths to the mind and soul.


Tobias Carroll
Freelance writer, managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn, and author of the books Reel and Transitory.

Advanced Search (Franceska Rouzard, Real Life Magazine)

The right essay can turn an object or memory that I’d previously found mundane into the stuff of gripping narrative. Such is the case here, as Rouzard’s essay opens with descriptions of AOL dial-up in the mid-1990s before segueing into a capsule history of social media, and then extending into broader questions of identity and the sacred. It neatly parallels its author’s life with broader societal questions, keeping the two in perfect balance, and leaving me with a greater sense of both–I can’t ask a great essay to do more than that.


Sara Benincasa
Screenwriter, comedian, and writer, whose books include Agorafabulous, Great, DC Trip, and Real Artists Have Day Jobs.

Southern Fried Pride: What Hattiesburg’s First Pride Means in the Deep South (Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Medium)

The Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the United Church of Christ is a wife, a mother, a lesbian, a former college professor (I took her class at Warren Wilson College), and the executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality. In this piece, Jasmine takes a road trip across the Deep South to visit Hattiesburg, Mississippi on the occasion of its very first Pride parade. People like Jasmine do the work that all Americans need, whether they accept it or not. In her peaceful, dignified but impassioned manner, she fights for equality for all Americans. That she happens to be a damn fine storyteller is just icing on the deep-fried cake.

More Than Coffee: New York’s Vanishing Diner Culture (George Blecher, The New York Times)

George Blecher paints a wonderful portrait of the diner he loves the most. He also gives a great bit of history about the rise of the diner in New York City. I grew up in New Jersey, which has its own brilliant and thriving diner culture but I lived in New York for many years. The old diner joints there are just as important as George says. Here in my newer home in Los Angeles, a city I love, I’ve got a few diners I can depend on: in Silverlake, Sunset Junction Coffee Shop; in Los Feliz, House of Pies; and more scattered around town. And in Manhattan, at 100th and Broadway, George has the Metro – for now.


Emily Gould
Half of the Coffee House Press imprint and e-bookstore Emily Books, and the author, most recently, of the novel Friendship.

H.: On Heroin and Harm Reduction (Sarah Resnick, n+1)

This year I started teaching writing workshop classes for the first time, and a lot of students want to learn how to do exactly what Sarah Resnick does here–and so do I! Addressed to a relative with a longstanding heroin habit, as well as a host of other problems, Resnick’s essay goes down several different paths, ultimately illuminating a lot of what’s circuitous and maddening about addiction and recovery as they’re currently understood in America, and how harm reduction programs work. The essay’s idiosyncratic, personal approach makes it more convincing than a straightforward argument for a new understanding of addiction could be. Reading it is memorable the way an experience is.

Perhaps Having Kids Saves You From Mourning the Person you Might Have Been (Laura Hazard Owen, Medium and tinyletter)

Owen publishes her essays about parenthood via newsletter as well as on Medium. She’s a journalist with expertise in publishing, tech and the business of journalism, and she brings the same kind of skepticism about received wisdom and eye for detail to her observations about children and parenting culture as she does to her other work. In this one, she takes on the hardest question of all — whether having children could be a mistake, whether parents can allow themselves to think it might have been. She writes about ambition so well. I will always remember the line here about lying on a couch reading in a beautiful house.


Porochista Khakpour
Author of the forthcoming memoir, Sick (Harper Perennial, August 2017) and the novels The Last Illusion, and Sons & Other Flammable Objects, whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bookforum, Elle, Spin, Slate, and many other publications around the world.

The Weight of James Arthur Baldwin (Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Buzzfeed)

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah has become my favorite writer of my generation since I first read her writing about Dave Chappelle in The Believer several years ago (it was a National Magazine Award finalist, collected in The Best American Nonrequired Reading as well as The Believer’s anthology Read Harder). Since then I’ve been a fan of every piece of hers and this chronicle of traveling to the home of James Baldwin in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France is no exception. (It’s a highlight of what I consider one of the best books of the year, the Jesmyn Ward-edited The First This Time). Ghansah writes about Baldwin from all different angles and with every emotion, braided with her own issues of identity. The result is a hard, rough, beautiful diamond of piece, pushed to brilliance from considerable pressure. Ghansah is perhaps one of the only writers we have today who can live up to Baldwin in so many shades of style and substance.

Who are All the Trump Supporters? (George Saunders, The New Yorker)

Saunders has always been one of my favorite writers–it’s physically impossible for me to not read a piece by him–but this classic from last summer will be surely studied for decades if not centuries in the future. Trump and his supporters are a perfect match for Saunders, who although a liberal, often sketches the America Trump supporters know well in his fiction. The trademark Saundersian dark absurdism is a perfect fit for taking to the campaign trail and interviewing Trump supporters at rallies in Arizona, Wisconsin and California. The result is as funny as it frightening. It’s doubly a punch in the gut to read it now that Trump is, somehow, our president-elect.”Although, to me, Trump seems the very opposite of a guardian angel, I thank him for this: I’ve never before imagined America as fragile, as an experiment that could, within my very lifetime, fail,” Saunders writes, and ends almost prophetically: “But I imagine it that way now.”


Emily Perper
Emily Perper is a writer, bookseller and contributing editor at Longreads. In addition to word-work, they’re on the board of The Frederick Center, which provides resources for queer people in central Maryland.

My Son, the Prince of Fashion (Michael Chabon, GQ)

Both of my “best of” personal essay nominations concern the reaches and limits of parenthood. At GQ, novelist Michael Chabon writes about his trip to Paris Men’s Fashion Week, where his young son, 13-year-old Abe, catches a glimpse of his future and yearns after his tribe. I’d never presume to understand the intricacies of childrearing, but Chabon treats his son with a blend of kindness and respect we’d all do well to emulate with the young folks in our own lives–taking their desires, ideas and motivations seriously, and fostering their artistic instincts. And Chabon is simply an excellent writer, blending gentle self-deprecation with astute observation. He doesn’t need paragraphs of adjectives to transport the reader to the studios and runways of Paris. You are there, sweating in the French summer. You are there, checking out the throngs of stylish young men loitering outside shows. And you there, beaming (Guardedly! Be cool!) at your son, when he recognizes and is recognized.

Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid (Rufi Thorpe, Vela)

Novelist Rufi Thorpe upends traditional discourse around the ponderous/condescending/exhausting query, “Can women have it all?” Instead, she makes a distinction between the selfishness of the artist’s way and motherhood’s requisite selflessness. Beyond her powerful and honest observations, the energy behind her language is distinct and exciting; it’s why I’ll read anything she writes. When I read the line “Children are a hinge that only bends one way,” I gasped.


Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Story Wrangler, WordPress.com and Longreads

Champagne in the Cellar (John Temple, The Atlantic)

During the Second World War, John Temple’s parents hid in a basement in Budapest with a French doctor, underneath a home that German soldiers had made their headquarters. After they separated from the doctor, they never reconnected. For the next 70 years, they wondered what had happened to this man who saved their lives. After his parents’ death, Temple turns to the internet to search for this man, known to him only as Dr. Lanusse. This is a touching story about history, family, memory, and — ultimately — a lasting bond between two families, connected by extraordinary circumstances. Read more…

Celebrating Pride: Where Religion and Queerness Meet

Longreads Pick

During Pride Month, Emily Perper will be sharing stories from the LGBTQ community. This reading list is about the experiences of queer people of faith.

Source: Longreads
Published: Jun 19, 2016

14 Stories About Love: A Reading List

Longreads Pick

Revel in all the feels with these 14 (get it?) essays and interviews. A Valentine’s Day reading list from Emily Perper.

Source: Longreads
Published: Feb 14, 2016

Living With Depression: A Reading List

Longreads Pick

“We read to know that we are not alone,” so sayeth C.S. Lewis, via William Nicholson. I want you to know that this holiday season, you are not alone. A new reading list from Emily Perper.

Source: Longreads
Published: Dec 20, 2015

Longreads Best of 2015: Under-Recognized Stories

We asked all of our contributors to Longreads Best of 2015 to tell us about a story they felt deserved more recognition in 2015. Here they are. Read more…