I recognize so much in this raw and wise essay by Lauren Markham, a first-time author. Sure, it’s thrilling to finally publish a book, but then those feelings of pride and accomplishment are often quickly chased away by disappointment, sorrow, confusion, all kinds of personal reckonings.
I vividly remember a Saturday books fair in Annapolis, Maryland, with live C-SPAN cameras trained on the dais where I stood with notes and a paperback copy of my first book. The cameras were about to go live and the audience was comprised of... eighty empty chairs. Gulp. (A few bewildered folks were yanked into the room to rescue me, just in time, from a coast-to-coast humiliation.)
“It turns out that just because you wrote a book doesn’t mean the bookstores will sell it,” Markham writes in this confessional that includes her affair with an older, married man and a lovely appreciation for J.D. Salinger’s perfect short story, “For Esme, With Love and Squalor.” “No matter what accolades my book has received, each visit to the bookstore feels like a new test of my book’s worth—and my own.” There are so many moving and lyrical lines I’d love to quote here, but I’ll leave you with this one: “The closer one comes to something being in reach, the further the horizon recedes; it’s like trying to swim toward the setting sun.”
An asthma epidemic is strangling Southern California communities. Part of the problem? A lake—once a renowned tourist attraction—that now produces clouds of toxic dust. Pediatrician Saima Khan moved back to the area to help the at-need population. Since then, she and two of her daughters have developed asthma while her husband has begun wheezing. “Why are you still here and making us all sick?” the family asks her. As for the rest of us, Why are we letting them die?
Stanford Law professor Michele Dauber made it her mission to lead a recall campaign against Judge Aaron Persky after his controversial six-month sentencing of Brock Turner, who was convicted of assault with intent to commit rape. But 29 of her Stanford colleagues signed a letter against her effort and a criminal justice reform advocate became one of Dauber’s biggest opponents. On Thursday, Judge Persky was recalled—the first such result in California since 1932.
Canada’s too-strict assisted-dying laws kept Lawrence Hill’s 90-year-old mother from ending her life at home. So Donna Mae Hill and her son traveled to Switzerland. “I am heartbroken, but I am also happy,” Lawrence Hill writes. “My mother got her wish.”
“Last year I started reporting on a little squabble between two neighbors, for @outsidemagazine,” Chris Colin wrote last week on Twitter. “By the end I’d been attacked, and called Fake News, and threatened with jail. This story about sand is actually about America.”
The elderly owner of the three-story Victorian wants to move from a place with historical significance, but she’d really like to do it peacefully. A wondrous piece of reporting and writing by the always-brilliant, Lane DeGregory.
Fainaru-Wada and Quinn reveal how the FIFA and other sports governing bodies "repeatedly kowtowed to Russia despite evidence of widespread doping, computer hacking and allegations of bribery of sports officials."
For decades, Britain was ever-eager to let Russia use its London banks to shoehorn billions of its dirty money. But there’s been a rising backlash, expressed by Prime Minister Theresa May in March, and, Oliver Bullough asks: Is it too late for the UK to kick its Russian money habit?
The mammoth body of work of Studs Terkel, the crusty veteran Chicago newspaperman and broadcaster who died in 2008, is now available to easily search and savor. On that happy occasion, Terkel’s career is affectionately saluted by Garry Wills.
The World Cup begins on June 14 but the United States won’t be participating, for the first time since 1986. This story argues that the USMNT’s heartbreaking defeat to Trinidad and Tobago was “the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure.”
Rebecca Schuman’s story traces “the exact moment in the mid-Nineties when reality television morphed from its best self to its worst.” This is the latest installment of Schuman’s excellent The ’90s Are Old series at Longreads.
In the first two weeks under the U.S. government's new border enforcement policy, over 600 families have been broken up. Kids, like José, whose story is told by the Times, are put in foster families and often traumatized.
Anthony Bourdain rescued food from the esthetes and the rubes with this trend-setting piece for The New Yorker. With a tough-guy prose style, he made the dungeon that is a restaurant kitchen seem like an exotic place and its citizens romantic characters in a drama that unfolded like a theatrical production. The great trick of his career was convincing his reader that his messages—eat good food, travel widely, be open to new experiences, be kind to others—were somehow daring and clever. They weren't—any fool knows the value of the Bourdain maxims. But by putting his brash mark on the conventional wisdom, he reopened closed eyes to the experience of being alive. A self-consciously gonzo writer, his motto could have been "Bomb appetite!"
Bourdain tributes abound this week, and it’s remarkable how many of them portray him as a truly decent man. He gave one of my favorite Fresh Air interviews ever, which they re-ran after his death. It’s what I turned to after I heard the sad news; maybe it will be of comfort to you as well.
Jody Avirgan is the host of FiveThirtyEight's politics podcast and is heading up the new "30 for 30" podcast documentary series from ESPN.
THE SLR POD:
Coming this week to The Sunday Long Read podcast: Seymour Hersh, the 81-year-old veteran investigative reporter and the author of the new memoir, Reporter. Don and Sy spoke late last week and the podcast of their rollicking conversation will drop early this coming week.
One recent day, when it was raining and I was feeling particularly blue, I decided to visit my local bookstore. Though bookstores were once among my favorite places to spend time, ever since my own book was published eight months ago, trips into bookstores have mutated into sordid affairs. I’ll walk in the door, feign cool, casual, just your average browser, then drift over to the shelves in the way someone might sidle up to the bar with a good-looking mark in sight. I’m not really browsing, not just refilling my drink — I’m searching, quite shamefully, for my own book on the shelves.
“I think in movies, in television, and in advice columns, often there's this idea that what people are really attracted to is confidence. And I think people, especially young men, sometimes misinterpret that to mean being brash, or trying to be an alpha. That's what's attractive to the opposite sex, or to the same sex. But in my experience—and I feel bashful pontificating on the nature of attraction—I guess I feel like what's actually attractive is confidence that doesn't manifest as, like, silverback-ape behavior. Internal confidence." He pauses. "Is this just word salad?"
Anthony Bourdain, the revered part-chef, part-storyteller, part-truthteller, died at age 61 of suicide while on location in France for his beloved CNN show, “Parts Unknown.” Inspired by Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, the New Jersey-native published Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly in 2000. He was 43 and had lived most of his living days in New York City kitchens. He spent the last 18 years of his life traveling the world and meeting the Other.
The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Phillips shows us what it is like to embark on a spy mission 70,000 feet above the earth. Phillips and his camera crew get a rare opportunity to fly in America’s oldest working spy plane. Great camera work and reporting while wearing a space suit.
Fifty years after his death, RFK’s friends, aides and journalists recall the New York senator’s last campaign, his assassination in LA and the aftermath for the city. This is one of our favorite oral histories of 2018.
THE SUNDAY STILL
On June 2, EFE photographer Esteban Biba documented indigenous Maya Mam women carrying the repatriated body of Claudia Patricia Gómez González, who was shot and killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The pallbearers’ youth and colorful dresses were a jolting contrast in a solemn, intimate statement about immigration. Photojournalists typically do not like subjects to look at the camera, but in this case, the young woman who locks her gaze on the photographer seems to be challenging viewers to look away or ignore what has occurred. Singular sadness multiplied when a national disaster struck the next day, sending Biba to cover the eruption of the Fuego volcano, which killed at least 65 people, prompting more funeral processions. In a tragic news week for Guatemala, Biba demonstrated the power of local knowledge, perspective and professionalism, providing the world an intimate view of a nation’s compounded grief.
Patrick Farrell, the curator of The Sunday Still, is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winner for Breaking News Photography for The Miami Herald, where he has worked since 1987. He is currently a Distinguished Executive-in-Residence in Emerson College’s Department of Journalism.
On May 23, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held an open hearing entitled "Examining the Olympic Community's Ability to Protect Athletes from Sexual Abuse." Witnesses included top officials from the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and USA Swimming. Chairman Gregg Harper's opening statement referenced "breakdowns and failures in the system to protect athletes" in explaining the impetus for the hearing.
Ryan works as a professor at Florida State University, where he teaches research methods and sports law. He writes a lot of academic articles and some mainstream pieces too
TIM TORKILDSON'S SUNDAYLIMERICK
From The Motley Fool:
"Most people know that their actions on social media may prevent them from getting a job. What some don't think about is that their digital life on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others may cost them a job they already have."
From Tim: There was a young person of Sparks
Who did bizarre things with aardvarks.
He posted results
For various cults,
and lost his job filling bismarcks.
Tim Torkildson is a retired circus clown who fiddles with rhyme. All his verses can be found at Tim's Clown Alley.
Founder, Curator: Don Van Natta Jr. Producer, Curator: Jacob Feldman Producer, Curator: Étienne Lajoie Senior Recycling Editor: Jack Shafer Senior Long View Editor: Justine Gubar Senior Photo Editor: Patrick Farrell Senior Limerick Editor: Tim Torkildson Senior Podcast Editor: Jody Avirgan Senior Editor of Esoterica: Ryan M. Rodenberg
Digital Team: Nation Hahn, Nickolaus Hines, Megan McDonell, Alexa Steinberg Podcast Team: Peter Bailey-Wells, Cary Barbor, Julian McKenzie, Jonathan Yales Campus Editor: Peter Warren
Contributing Editors: Bruce Arthur, Shaun Assael, Alex Belth, Sara J. Benincasa, Sara Blask, Greg Bishop, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Chris Cillizza, Rich Cohen, Pam Colloff, Maureen Dowd, Charles Duhigg, Brett Michael Dykes, Geoff Edgers, Lea Goldman, Michael N. Graff, Maggie Haberman, Reyhan Harmanci, Virginia Heffernan, Matthew Hiltzik, Jena Janovy, Bomani Jones, Chris Jones, Peter Kafka, Paul Kix, Mina Kimes, Peter King, Michael Kruse, Tom Lamont, Chris Lehmann, Will Leitch, Glynnis MacNicol, Drew Magary, Erik Malinowski, Jonathan Martin, Betsy Fischer Martin, Ana Menendez, Kevin Merida, Heidi N. Moore, Eric Neel, Joe Nocera, Ashley R. Parker, Anne Helen Petersen, Jo Piazza, Joe Posnanski, S.L. Price, Jennifer Romolini, Julia Rubin, Albert Samaha, Bruce Schoenfeld, Michael Schur, Joe Sexton, Jacqui Shine, Rachel Sklar, Dan Shanoff, Ben Smith, Matt Sullivan, Wright Thompson, Pablo Torre, Kevin Van Valkenburg, John A. Walsh, and Seth Wickersham
Header Image: Matt Chinworth
You can read more about our staff, and contact us (we'd love to hear from you!) on our website: SundayLongRead.com. Help pick next week's selections by tweeting us your favorite stories with #SundayLR.