Alright, so I spoke too soon.
The other week, I posted my favorite longreads of 2010. Since then, however, I’ve been introduced to variety of websites that have had even more awesome long reads (not to mention I’ve also had time to go through my own archive of Instapaper articles). With the year winding up, I’ve been able to blast through a bunch of them and present to you seven more reads that I think are worth your time:
7) The real-life Swedish murder that inspired Stieg Larsson – A gripping tale of a murdered, mutilated body, and an investigation that ripped apart reputations and captivated the Swedish media. A real-life murder mystery.
6) Sledgehammer and Whore – A hilarious story about an unexpected hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold from the twisted mind of a TV writer.
5) Letting Go – Up there on the list of “articles that changed my life and the way I think about things,” this piece by Atul Gawande delves into some systematic problems with the way end-of-life care is discussed in our country from the perspectives of both patients and doctors. See if the following blows your mind:
Like many people, I had believed that hospice care hastens death, because patients forgo hospital treatments and are allowed high-dose narcotics to combat pain. But studies suggest otherwise. In one, researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months. The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer.
This is a must-read for anyone that thinks end-of-life decisions may one day be relevant to them. Which is basically all of us. Be sure to check out the accompanying Fresh Air interview as well.
4) Tie: Art of the Steal and The Ballad of Colton-Harris Moore – These pieces have a great deal in common: they are both about misunderstood individuals who happen to be geniuses at stealing and eluding the authorities. They’re also thrilling to read, and interesting character studies. I recommend checking them both out before the inevitable film adaptations are announced.
3) Who Killed Ayana Stanley-Jones? – An earnest examination of the tragic circumstances that led to the death of young Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Written by Detroit native Charlie LeDuff, this piece delves into the abject poverty of Detroit with brutal honesty.
2) The Theory of Relatability and Rethinking Justin Long’s Face – An excellent meditation on online film criticism by Michelle Orange. Orange writes about the pursuit of excellent in film and film criticism, and thoughtfully deconstructs what we are to think and feel in an age when our written words can echo all the way across the internet and reach the very ears we are insulting. On the film Going the Distance, and its “relatability,” Orange writes:
Blame Oprah if you want to, but relatability has been fermenting as both a cultural phenomenon and evaluative rubric since the 1970s, when a combination of factors moved the social concept of the self to the front of the culture. The mainstreaming of therapy and therapized language, the platonic “we’re all the same” rhetoric of the civil rights and equality movements, the merging of high and low culture, and rampant individualism conspired to form a kind of cultural currency, a new dialect that had the ear of the country…The most dangerous thing about relatability is the way it is often presented (and accepted) as a reasonable facsimile of or substitute for truth. This, I worry, may handicap our culture so violently that recovery, if it comes at all, will be generations in the reckoning; if in the meantime we lose our appetite for the real thing we are pretty much doomed. The pursuit of truth is a basic human instinct, and guides our engagement with ourselves, with art, and with other human beings; the scourge of relatability—and its sweetheart deal with another basic instinct, adaptation—puts all three relationships at risk.
1) Unauthorized, But Not Untrue – Kitty Kelly explains why “unauthorized” is not a dirty word when it comes to biographies. A breathtaking look back at a prolific career (although a touch on the self-congratulatory side).