Search Results for: New York Magazine

Reading List for 'Behind the Longreads' with New York Magazine

Reminder: This is next Wednesday! “Behind the Longreads” at Housing Works in NYC with New York magazine’s Dan P. Lee, Jessica Pressler, Wesley Yang and Editor-in-Chief Adam Moss. 

It’s a free event, and you can now RSVP on the Longreads Facebook page

Because this night is going to be about the stories themselves, we’ve prepared a reading list for the big event:

• “Travis the Menace,” by Dan P. Lee (also featured in our new Longreads: Best of 2011 ebook)

• “A Holly Golightly for the Stripper-Embezzlement Age,” by Jessica Pressler 

• “Paper Tigers,” by Wesley Yang

New York Magazine's Ben Williams: My Top Longreads of 2011

Ben Williams is the online editorial director at New York Magazine.


1. Celebrity profiles are the hardest genre to make fresh. So props to GQ for doing it not once but three times, with Jessica Pressler on Channing Tatum, Edith Zimmerman on Chris Evans, and Will Leitch on Michael Vick. With Pressler and Zimmerman, what’s great is the willingness of both subject and writer to play, and the dynamic between them—these pieces exploit the “profile as date” subtext really well. It’s fun to think about them as a sort of inverse to Jennifer Egan’s brilliant satire of the profile biz in A Visit From the Goon Squad.  In the Vick piece, what I like is the way that Leitch uses the PR apparatus around the process of profiling Michael Vick to reveal what’s at stake for him. He didn’t get much time with Vick, just a photo shoot and a phone call, but he used it to both explain and complicate the Michael Vick Story that the quarterback’s handlers want to tell. 

2. There are a bunch of New Yorker stories I could pick—Ryan Lizza’s “leading from behind” piece on Obama’s foreign policy was so influential; Jane Mayer on Thomas Drake and state secrets was fascinating and moving; Kelefah Sanneh not only wrote a great analysis of Odd Future, he tracked down their missing member; David Grann is David Grann—but my favorite was Jeffrey Toobin’s take on Clarence Thomas. There are so many things going on here: It’s a revisionist view that frames Thomas as very smart and canny; it shows how one justice can move the entire Supreme Court over decades through the way opinions are written; it sets the stage for next year’s healthcare ruling as a culmination of Thomas’s entire mission; and it makes clear once again just what a strange, extremist man he is.

3. Overall, my favorite thing in the new New York Times Magazine is probably the Riffs section—it identified a gap in the preview-and-review saturated culture journalism market, which is (relatively) long form argument/idea-driven pieces. To pick a few highlights: Dan Kois’s piece on avant-garde movies kicked off a fierce, endless, at times kind of ridiculous debate that just about every movie critic had to weigh in on; Adam Sternbergh’s piece on jokeless comedies defined an era; Sam Anderson on Derek Jeter both mocked empty sports hagiography and read like a hilarious version of Donald Barthelme. Alternate winner in this category is the New York Review of Books, which published some of the best cultural essays this year—Daniel Mendelsohn on Mad Men and Spiderman, Lorrie Moore on Friday Night Lights, and Dan Chiasson on Keith Richards were all delightful and provocative.

4. I just loved Paul Ford’s “The Web is a Customer Service Medium.” It’s the kind of piece that would be hard to get into a print magazine for various reasons, but it resonated instantly online. It’s a pretty abstract argument about a subject that’s not exactly under-analyzed—what is web content about, and how is it different from other forms of content?—but it opens by coining a phrase which instantly makes sense to anyone who works on the web: “Why wasn’t I consulted?” And then it goes on to make a very detailed, specific, convincing, and non-buzzword-filled argument that isn’t formulated expressly to piss off anyone who works in “old media,” which is refreshing.

5. Finally, some favorites in the emerging multimedia genre of longform tweeting. I probably read more words on Twitter than anywhere else this year, and I am grateful for the stamina of those who somehow manage to tweet and retweet extended thoughts all day, every day on specific themes. I learned as much about the Arab Spring by dipping into @acarvin’s feed as from any essays about it. @daveweigel is constantly insightful, and one of the few people capable of being funny about politics. Following @questlove’s stream is like listening to the world’s kindest, most passionate music geek.


See more lists from our Top 5 Longreads of 2011 >

Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. 

New York Magazine's Jessica Pressler: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

Jessica Pressler is a writer for New York Magazine. See her recent stories here. (Pictured above, inexplicably, with New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2010.)


Ok, so: There are no New York magazine articles in this Top Five, because I work there, and letting them in would clog up the list and might make for awkwardness at the office Christmas party, which is awkward enough already. None of these are by my friends, although Sarah Miller is a friend of a friend, John Jeremiah Sullivan and I once had an email correspondence that consisted entirely of sending each other links about animal attacks, and I profiled Michael Lewis this year, although I never heard from him after so maybe we’re enemies. Also, I limited myself to just one New Yorker article, because those people get enough attention.


Michael Lewis, “When Irish Eyes Are Crying,” Vanity Fair, March 2011

There’s really no one other than Michael Lewis who can turn 13,000 words on the European debt crisis into an enjoyable read (If he doesn’t say so himself, ahem). He has an amazing ability to sort of ground these these ginormous, abstract events (Ireland somehow lost $34 billion Euros???) in reality and to bring characters to life, like with his description of the Irish chief regulator’s “insecure little mustache.”

Lawrence Wright, “The Apostate,” The New Yorker, March 14, 2011

Paul Haggis, what a badass. And Lawrence Wright, of course. You have to just sort of bow down to the reporting and the writing in this story, the image of the New Yorker fact checkers facing off against the Scientology bigwigs with their binders is just as awesome for me as the one of a group Scientologists ripping each other apart during a sick game of musical chairs.

“Sarah Leal: How Ashton Kutcher Seduced Me,” Us Weekly, October 11, 2011

Sarah Leal is the “hot-tub worthy” chick Ashton Kutcher hooked up with in San Diego and ultimately the first domino in the collapse of his marriage to Demi Moore, but that’s not why this Q&A with her is interesting. The interviewer manages to extract from her the details of the night she spent with Ashton in minute detail (“Then I had to pee..”) and it doesn’t feel airbrushed the way it can when a celebrity magazine has made promises to publicists or the subject. There’s enough moments of weird hilarity (WHY is the bodyguard wearing a priest outfit?) to kind of balance out the tawdriness, and there’s even an unexpectedly touching moment when Ashton described his life as “90% fake.” I feel like I learned more about him and his weird, lonely life than I would from a magazine profile of the man himself.

“At Least We Don’t Brag,” Sarah Miller, Five Dials Number 19, March 2011 (PDF)

As a childless person living in the Smug Parent Capital of the World, I’m still nodding and laughing at this.

“Peyton’s Place,” John Jeremiah Sullivan, GQ, October 17, 2011

I guess it’s because of his book, but this year it kind of felt like everyone discovered the greatness of John Jeremiah Sullivan, because suddenly he is everywhere, and I think I speak for a lot of magazine writers when I say it kind of feels like your favorite indie band has become super-popular. Everyone went nuts over his Disney World story in the Times, but I’m picking the B-Side, which is a classic JJS, a 6,000 word piece that is kind of about nothing and everything all at once.

Our Longreads Member Pick: A Look Back at New York Woman Magazine


This week a debate erupted about “serious journalism” in women’s magazines—and as part of this discussion, several magazine editors reflected fondly on the work of the late, great magazine New York Woman and its founding editor, Betsy Carter. New York Woman was published from 1986-1992; Carter went on to work for O, the Oprah Magazine and write books including Nothing to Fall Back On: The Life and Times of a Perpetual Optimist. She also just finished her fourth novel. 

We asked Carter to share a story from the New York Woman archives, and she chose “The Jogger D.A.,” by Victoria Balfour, from 1991. Carter explains: 

“It was the harrowing New York crime story of the late eighties and every woman’s nightmare: a twenty-nine-year old female investment banker brutally beaten, raped and left for dead in a remote area of Central Park. Eventually, five teenage boys from Harlem were found guilty and sent to jail. As a monthly magazine with a three month lead time on a story that was in the papers nearly every day, New York Woman decided to focus on ‘The Jogger D.A.,’ the prosecutor in the case, Liz Lederer, a young newcomer to the DA’s office.

“Now, twenty-two years later, the story has re-emerged with the discovery that the five young men were wrongfully convicted, and Liz Lederer has been vilified for coercing false confessions from those men. This piece revisits the hysteria that surrounded that crime, and the pressure on the woman in the DA’s office to get it solved. It’s also an example of how, at New York Woman, we tried to find our own take on a story of the moment, and how we gave it the kind of time and space it warranted.

“The goal of New York Woman was to speak to women of the city much as they would speak among themselves. We did investigative pieces, cartoons, reviews, fiction, humor—using the best writers in the city. No topic was off-limits. We tried to capture whatever was in the air and give it a unique spin that spoke to our readers.”

Thanks to Betsy and Victoria for sharing this story with Longreads Members.

Our Longreads Member Pick: A Look Back at New York Woman Magazine

Longreads Pick

This week a debate erupted about “serious journalism” in women’s magazines—and as part of this discussion, several magazine editors reflected fondly on the work of the late, great magazine New York Woman and its founding editor, Betsy Carter. New York Woman was published from 1986-1992; Carter went on to work for O, the Oprah Magazine and write books including Nothing to Fall Back On: The Life and Times of a Perpetual Optimist. She also just finished her fourth novel.

We asked Carter to share a story from the New York Woman archives, and she chose “The Jogger D.A.,” by Victoria Balfour, from 1991. Carter explains here.

Source: New York Woman
Published: Jun 21, 2013
Length: 15 minutes (3,856 words)

New York Times Magazine Staff: Our Top Longreads of 2011

These were the results of a poll of all New York Times Magazine staff—edit, art, photo & production. We decided to do two lists: ‘Them’ and ‘Us,’ and hopefully that doesn’t get us in trouble with the Longreads governing body. 


These were the consensus picks of the staff, with only a little executive tampering. Such as: We decided at the last moment to semi-cheat and put Amy Harmon on the list. Though she is an “us” and not a “them,” we didn’t know a thing about her story until we read it in the newspaper, just like everybody else, and it was too good to leave off a year-end list. You will notice that Paul Ford’s essay fills the “our list is not the same as every other list” slot, but that is not, we swear, the reason it made the cut. It probably provoked as much conversation in our office as any single story this year. It is pure pleasure to read. By the way, we loved a lot from The New Yorker, and we could have justifiably filled all 5 slots with their stories. Though, of course, we would never do that. Also, there will be one staff member made very upset by the exclusion of “Travis the Menace,” by Dan P. Lee in New York magazine. Sorry, pal.

• “A Murder Foretold,” by David Grann, The New Yorker

• “Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World,” by Amy Harmon, New York Times

• “The Glory of Oprah,” By Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic

• “The Man Who Sailed His House,” By Michael Paterniti, GQ

• “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” by Paul Ford, The Morning News



This is also the result of a poll of all magazine staff:

• “Qaddafi’s Never-Never Land,” by Robert Worth

• “You Blow My Mind. Hey, Mickey!” by John Jeremiah Sullivan

• “Could Conjoined Twins Share a Mind?” by Susan Dominus

“Murder of an Innocent Man,” by Barry Bearak

• “What Happened to Air France Flight 447?” by Wil S. Hylton


See more lists from our Top 5 Longreads of 2011 >

Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook. 

Girlhood Gone: Notes from the New Nashville

Photo by Brent Moore, via Flickr Commons

Susannah Felts | Longreads | September 2016 | 18 minutes (4,439 words)

At 18, I knew only that I wanted out.

Out of Nashville, Tennessee, out of the whole Southeast. Free from region. If you’d asked, I could have told you why, but I didn’t yet know how deep a print the South had left on me, only the urge to reject its further touch.

* * *

Back then, the Nashville I knew was defined mainly by the limited spheres of a middle-class adolescence: home, school, and a 20-mile stretch of I-40 that I drove many hundreds if not thousands of times, back and forth, east and west, repeat. My family lived on one side of the city, my friends and classmates on the other, hitched together by a private school that sat roughly in between.

To a lesser degree I knew my hometown to be a place defined by country music and Christianity, home of the Grand Ole Opry and Buckle of the Bible Belt. This identity seemed distinct but remote: I did not listen to country, did not go to church. Music City? To a kid who was rock-n-roll crazy pretty much from birth, the nickname seemed almost a cruel joke. This was not my Music City. Read more…

Postwar New York: The Supreme Metropolis of the Present

Demobilized soldiers returning to New York. Via Flickr.

David Reid | The Brazen Age: New York City and the American Empire: Politics, Art, and Bohemia | Pantheon | March 2016 | 31 minutes (8,514 words)


The excerpt below is adapted from The Brazen Age, by David Reid, which examines the “extraordinarily rich culture and turbulent politics of New York City between the years 1945 and 1950.” This story is recommended by Longreads contributing editor Dana Snitzky

* * *

Probably I was in the war.

—NORMAN MAILER, Barbary Shore (1951)


A hideous, inhuman city. But I know that one changes one’s mind.

In march 1946 the young French novelist and journalist Albert Camus traveled by freighter from Le Havre to New York, arriving in the first week of spring. Le Havre, the old port city at the mouth of the Seine, had almost been destroyed in a battle between its German occupiers and a British warship during the Normandy invasion; huge ruins ringed the harbor. In his travel journal Camus writes: “My last image of France is of destroyed buildings at the very edge of a wounded earth.”

At the age of thirty-two this Algerian Frenchman, who had been supporting himself with odd jobs when the war began, was about to become very famous. By 1948, he would become an international culture hero: author of The Stranger and The Plague, two of the most famous novels to come out of France in the forties, and of the lofty and astringent essays collected in The Myth of Sisyphus.

Camus’s visit to the United States, sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs but involving no official duties, was timed to coincide with Alfred A. Knopf’s publication of The Stranger in a translation by Stuart Gilbert, the annotator of James Joyce’s Ulysses. In the spring of 1946 France was exporting little to the United States except literature. Even most American readers with a particular interest in France knew of Camus, if at all, as a distant legend, editor of the Resistance newspaper Combat and an “existentialist.”

Reviewing The Stranger in the New Yorker, Edmund Wilson, usually omniscient, confessed that he knew absolutely nothing about existentialism except that it was enjoying a “furious vogue.” If there were rumored to be philosophical depths in this novel about the motiveless murder of an Arab on a North African beach, they frankly eluded him. For Wilson the book was nothing more than “a fairly clever feat”—the sort of thing that a skillful Hemingway imitator like James M. Cain had done as well or better in The Postman Always Rings Twice. America’s most admired literary critic also had his doubts about Franz Kafka, the writer of the moment, suspecting that the claims being made for the late Prague fabulist were exaggerated. But still, like almost everyone else, especially the young, in New York’s intellectual circles Wilson was intensely curious about what had been written and thought in occupied Europe, especially in France.

“Our generation had been brought up on the remembrance of the 1920s as the great golden age of the avant-garde, whose focal point had been Paris,” William Barrett writes in The Truants, his memoir of the New York intellectuals. “We expected history to repeat itself: as it had been after the First, so it would be after the Second World War.” The glamorous rumor of existentialism seemed to vindicate their expectations. Camus’s arrival was eagerly awaited not only by Partisan Review but also by the New Yorker, which put him in “The Talk of the Town,” and Vogue, which decided that his saturnine good looks resembled Humphrey Bogart’s. Read more…

A Father’s New Face

Photo: New York Magazine / YouTube

Three months ago, Patrick Hardison’s face belonged to someone else—a young Brooklyn bike mechanic named David Rodebaugh. Writing for New York magazine, Steve Fishman tells the story of the most extensive face transplant yet performed, including the entire scalp, ears, and eyelids, and the two men involved (Rodebaugh was killed in a bike accident and Hardison lost most of his face in a fire 14 years ago). The entire piece is deeply compelling and raises interesting questions, like how a man’s children can adjust to a father emerging from surgery with a new face:

The next step in Hardison’s recovery was to reintroduce himself to his five kids, his mother, sister, brother, and Chrissi. It was the kids he worried about most. Nine weeks after the operation, on October 8, they walked tentatively into his hospital room. Hardison bounded toward them with a surprisingly quick step. His face was slowly healing, but the rest of him was fit, almost athletic. Hardison hugged each one fiercely, grabbed tissues to wipe the tears that seeped out from under his new eyelids.

The youngest especially, the 10- and 11-year-old boys, put on brave faces. “No matter how big of a medical miracle it may be, that doesn’t make it comfortable for his kids,” said Chrissi. “It’s still having to adjust to someone else’s face on his body.” After all, a face is more than a face. It’s an identity, a signal to the world of who a person is. By four months of age, infants’ brains recognize faces at nearly an adult level—especially the faces that belong to their parents. The younger boys touched his hair, now a half-inch long. One of the boys joked that he’d buy his dad earrings for his pierced ears. “Hell, no,” said Hardison. It was reassuring to hear his response, so typical of their dad. Still, they wanted to recognize him, to know him. “When I see his face, I want to memorize it, so the next time I see him, I know it’s my dad,” said one son.

Read the story