“Travel writing, like pop music, abhors a vacuum,” Michael Meyer, author of several books on travel and associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in an email to City Paper. “There always has to be The Next Place to Go, or the Best City You’ve Never Heard Of. If it’s not Baltimore or Greenpoint or St. Paul, then it’s Pittsburgh.”
Subject matter can be almost self-consciously esoteric. The latest issue of Ernest includes a piece by Queen guitarist Brian May on diableries (19th-century stereoscopic photographs of clay model demons). Cereal has 10 pages on Anglepoise lamps; Avaunt has a feature headlined “Politics of map projections”. The new magazines also move away from the traditional “colonial” […]
Then there is the intriguing way airways are navigated, using radio beacons and “waypoints”, spots defined by geographic co-ordinates or their bearing and distance from a beacon. These waypoints are typically given five-letter capitalised names that are supposed to be simple enough for any controller or pilot to recognise them, regardless of their first language. […]
The legendary Ellen Willis (first-ever pop critic for The New Yorker, feminist role model extraordinaire, etc.) passed away in 2006, but her work is enjoying a second renaissance thanks to The Essential Ellen Willis, a 2014 collection edited by her daughter Nona Willis Aronowitz. Earlier this month the National Book Critics Circle posthumously awarded Willis their top prize in criticism […]
The long-distance train is one of America’s greatest and least heralded public spaces. Perhaps without intending to, the train encapsulates many qualities of public spaces that planners and designers try so hard to create. It is democratic in that it serves people across many different communities, geographies and interest groups. It is diverse in that it appeals to a broad spectrum of people across ages, ethnicities, races, nationalities and genders, and critically, it facilitates connections between these different people. (While traveling from New Orleans to Los Angeles, I met a gay couple going to Houston, a Latino family headed to Albuquerque, an indie rock-loving pizza-maker from Austin, a minister going to Tucson and an L.A.-bound retired merchant marine who taught me how to play dominoes.) Unlike planes, trains foster a sense of appreciation and curiosity about the landscapes through which they pass, which in turn help passengers develop a deeper connection to place.
Peter deemed my proposed plan — driving 12 hours back east to Maine to glimpse my dreamed-of American landscape — completely unrealistic, and rightly so, as I realized with a sudden sense of shame. At the same time, I had the feeling that he really wanted me to see Detroit. And why not? It was […]
He could have made his life easier by being less ambitious, but that’s not what Noma does. Instead, they’ve taken their strictly seasonal and regional agenda and applied it to the islands of Japan instead of the Nordic region. “I made seven trips here in the past year. I’ve been everywhere in Japan,” he explains.
Rebecca Solnit | Orion | Summer 2014 | 20 minutes (4,780 words) OrionOur latest Longreads Exclusive comes from Rebecca Solnit and Orion magazine—subscribe to the magazine or donate for more great stories like this. Get a free trial issue Download .mobi (Kindle) Download .epub (iBooks) [ 1. ] The word “journey” used to mean a […]
Brendan I. Koerner | The Skies Belong to Us | 2013 | 25 minutes (6,186 words) ‘There Is No Way to Tell a Hijacker by Looking At Him’ When the FAA’s antihijacking task force first convened in February 1969, its ten members knew they faced a daunting challenge—not only because of the severity of […]
I don’t think I was the only one who had trouble holding it together. We had come all this way and cashed in so much good fortune for the outside chance that we might see those eight Emperor penguins pick their way across the ice. And we did. In a world that can seem purpose-built […]
Emily Perper is a word-writing human for hire. She blogs about her favorite longreads at Diet Coker. “One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things,” wrote Henry Miller. Travel changes the traveler, obviously. Here, authors look at themselves, their societies, and their conceptions of home. 1. “Fat and […]
One of the coolest things about Longreads is when someone tweets: “I’m at the airport about to fly to San Francisco / New York / London / India / Argentina. I need some #Longreads for the trip.” This got us thinking: What if we started gathering the best #longreads for every destination in the world? […]