This week we’re sharing stories by Jason Fagone, Betty Ann Adam, Christian H. Cooper, Clarissa Wei, and Robert Kolker.
What exactly does a bullet do to flesh as it careens through the body? At Highline, Jason Fagone profiles Philadelphia trauma surgeon Dr. Amy Goldberg, a woman on the front lines of gun violence as she attempts to repair the broken bodies that arrive daily at Temple University Hospital. Dr. Goldberg doesn’t only fix the damage, she’s also working to prevent it. After a patient died the third time he was shot, she worked with friend and coworker Scott Charles to create a social program, Turning Point, which has been instrumental in stopping gun violence before it starts.
More than 30,000 people die of gunshot wounds each year in America, around 75,000 more are injured, and we have no visceral sense of what physically happens inside a person when he’s shot. (Dr. Amy) Goldberg does.
“The creation of a person, you know. It’s the heart beating and the lungs bringing air. It is so miraculous.” Surgery, for Goldberg, was a way of honoring the miracle. And trauma surgery was the ultimate form of appreciation, because a surgeon in trauma experienced so much variety. She might be operating on the carotid artery in the neck, or the heart in the chest, or the large bowel or small bowel in the abdomen, or the femoral artery in the thigh, at any given moment, on any given night.
“As a country,” Goldberg said, “we lost our teachable moment.” She started talking about the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Goldberg said that if people had been shown the autopsy photos of the kids, the gun debate would have been transformed. “The fact that not a single one of those kids was able to be transported to a hospital, tells me that they were not just dead, but really really really really dead. Ten-year-old kids, riddled with bullets, dead as doornails.”
“My first campaign was in 2012, and I did that for GQ, and it was essentially a blog. I was on the trail covering it every single day, multiple times a day. So I was trained pretty narrowly as a political reporter. But I always had this ambition to be a magazine features writer, and after 2012 I tried to lay the groundwork of doing features, about politics but also about other things. …
“After spending a year at GQ covering the campaign — I had gone there with the idea that I was going to be a daily blogger on the campaign trail and also write these great longform features. And guess what? It’s really hard to blog every day, and also write longform features. So at the end of the year I was sort of looking I was like, ‘Well this was great, but I didn’t write anything that was like a classic magazine feature.’ I freelanced for about eight months and I just use that time to really establish myself as someone who could do the features because, for one, I wanted to know that I could do it. But I also wanted to say to other people, ‘Here’s the kind of writer I am.'”
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…
Stephen Rodrick | The New York Times Magazine | January 2013 | 31 minutes (7,752 words)
Steve is a good friend, but I don’t think anyone will accuse me of stacking the deck for picking his widely praised tale of the making of Lindsay Lohan’s “The Canyons.” It’s the story from this year I remember the best—not just because it’s a textured portrait of Lohan, one that made me feel for her and actually like her, but because there are so many indelible moments. Lohan crying in her room: “It began quietly, almost a whimper, but rose to a guttural howl. It was the sobbing of a child lost in the woods.” Lohan negotiating with a pack of paparazzi to clear room for a film shot at a mall: “Lohan turned to her good side and hiked her floor-length skirt up to show a little leg. ‘O.K., five, four, three, two, one. Now you have to go.'” And of course there’s the moment when director Paul Schrader, “the son of dour Calvinists,” takes off his clothes to make a stubborn, emotional Lohan feel more comfortable taking off hers for a film scene:
Naked, he walked toward Lohan.
“Lins, I want you to be comfortable. C’mon, let’s do this.”
[Producer Braxton] Pope heard the scream and ran up from downstairs. He turned a corner, and there was a naked Schrader. Pope let out a “whoa” and slowly backed out of the room.
But then a funny thing happened. Lohan dropped her robe.
As detailed and wackadoo as this story is, there’s also something universal about it. We are all naked Schrader, coaxing and begging our inner Lohans.
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Below is the first chapter from Jason Fagone’s book, Ingenious, about the X Prize Foundation’s $10 million competition to build a car that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of gas. Thanks to Fagone and Crown Publishing for sharing it with the Longreads community. You can purchase the full book here. Read more…