An argument about why ESPN’s tactic of appealing to as many people as possible ensured that a “well-funded black-interest site written and edited by blacks” could never exist within the company.
Jay Caspian Kang (pictured above) is an editor at Grantland. His work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine and The Morning News. His first novel, The Dead Do Not Improve, will be published by Hogarth/Random House in August 2012.
This is the sort of piece you want to compare to other writers like Didion or Carver or even James Baldwin, but you hold off because you don’t want to piss off the author by getting it wrong. Yes, there’s a bit of Didion’s calmness here, a bit of Carver’s bleariness, and a bit of Baldwin’s honesty-at-all-costs, but David Hill’s prose sings with a melancholy that’s truly original. The one piece from 2011 that had me punching the wall with jealousy. By far my favorite read of the year.
Great crime writing. Thoroughly reported and well constructed.
My thoughts on Guillermoprieto can be found here.
This is gut-wrenching. Goldman’s novel, Say Her Name, is somehow even more powerful.
When this very funny piece about robots is over, you start thinking a bit differently about love. I don’t know how Jon Ronson achieved that effect, but “Robots Say the Damnedest Things,” was my most fun read of 2011.
Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.
If you Google “Constance Fenimore Woolson,” the top item is her Wikipedia page. The second is an excerpt of a book about the author Henry James.
I hadn’t heard of Woolson until recently. She’s the subject of a new biography by Anne Boyd Roux, Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist. To herald her new biography, a collection of Woolson’s short stories has been published, too.
Until now, Woolson has been an interesting, tragic anecdote in the lives of others. She’s the alleged inspiration for the Lady in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. Never mind that she was an accomplished writer in her own right or a world traveler.
I like calling Woolson “CFW.” It reminds me of David Foster Wallace’s oft-used nickname, and Wallace is one of those names people gesture at emphatically when they toss out the words “literary genius.” I like sneaking Woolson into the lit boys’ club. Read more…
Eva Holland | Longreads |February 2016 | 25 minutes (6,339 words)
There’s been more talk than usual lately about the state of freelance writing. There are increasing numbers of tools for freelancers: among them, the various incarnations of “Yelp for Journalists.” There’s advice floating around; there are Facebook support groups.
With the exception of one 10-month staff interlude, I’ve been freelancing full time now for seven and a half years. I’ve learned a few things along the way, but I also still have a ton of questions, and often feel as if I’ve outgrown some of the advice I see going by in the social media stream.
So I gathered a handful of well-established freelance writers and asked them to participate in a group email conversation about their experiences and advice. Josh Dean is a Brooklyn-based writer for the likes of Outside, GQ, Rolling Stone, and Popular Science. Jason Fagone lives in the Philadelphia area and has recently published stories in the New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones, Matter, and Grantland. May Jeong is based in Kabul, and has written for publications including the New York Times Magazine, the Guardian, and Al-Jazeera America. (She managed to fit in her contributions to this roundtable while reporting from a remote corner of Afghanistan, so thank you, May.) As for me, I live in Canada’s northern Yukon Territory, and my work has appeared in AFAR, Pacific Standard, Smithsonian, and other places on both sides of the border. Read more…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in specific categories. Here, the best in arts and culture writing.
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Senior writer with Sportsnet magazine
Stephen Colbert has pulled off the rare feat of being a public figure for the better part of a decade while keeping his true self almost entirely obscured behind a braying façade. Here, with such uncommon intelligence, sensitivity and nuance, Joel Lovell shows us who’s been under there the whole time. The writer is very present in the story, sifting through the meaning of what he finds and tugging us along behind him through reporting and writing that starts out rollicking and then turns surprisingly raw and emotional. But Lovell never gets in his own way or turns self-indulgent; that’s a tough thing to pull off. The word I kept coming back to in thinking about this story was “humane”—it just feels so complex and wise, and unexpectedly aching, buoyed with perfect, telling details and effortlessly excellent writing. Read more…
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…
We asked a few writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here, the best in sports writing.
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Senior Writer at ESPN the Magazine and espn.com.
This is Why NFL Star Greg Hardy was Arrested for Assaulting his Girlfriend (Diana Moskovitz, Deadspin)
Last year, the NFL was rocked by several incidents of domestic violence, starting in September with the release of a video of Ray Rice’s assault of his then-fiancee and peaking in February, when charges against star defensive end Greg Hardy were dismissed after his accuser disappeared. By November, most football fans had moved on. Diana Moskovitz did not. She continued to tirelessly report on the issue, and in November, Deadspin published a devastating scoop: pictures that showed exactly what happened between Hardy and his ex-girlfriend, Nicole Holder, that night in Charlotte. Moskovitz’s piece, which laid out the facts of the case in meticulous detail, forced many to confront what had happened. It also pushed readers to ask why it took photographic evidence to make the world care.
A common criticism of longform writing, especially on the internet, is that it’s too self-centered; too many features rely on the first person, and too many writers insert themselves into their pieces. This is often true. But sometimes, as with the case of this stunning Spencer Hall essay, it’s an incredibly effective technique.
By juxtaposing the story of his own family’s financial struggles with the larger story of the systematic impoverishment of college athletes, Hall compels readers to look at the issue in a new way: through the lens of personal pain. He shows us that the controversy over whether college athletes should be paid for their services isn’t an intellectual or economic debate, but an ethical one. By denying athletes the right to earn a living, the NCAA forces them to live with the looming threat of financial insecurity—an ache that Hall himself knows all too well. Read more…
Below, our favorite stories of the week. Kindle users, you can also get them as a Readlist.
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