City on a Hill

Longreads

Leslie Kendall Dye | Longreads | June 2018 | 11 minutes 2,944 words)

At the top of Riverdale, at the top of the Bronx, there is a city on a hill. The city exists within a single building; there are single rooms with no locks, each with a bed, a dresser, and — if the resident’s family provides one — a television set with which to while away the hours. Time is measured by the same clock as it is in other cities, but here it curves and collapses, compresses yet languorously stretches. Once a week there is a hairdresser and a manicurist, too. It is lovely — and dreadful. You can visit the citizens here, and you are free to leave when you are ready, if freedom is measured by the movement of one’s feet. My mother lives in this building, which is a nursing home. We signed the…

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How the Self-Publishing Industry Changed, Between My First and Second Novels

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As of this writing, my self-published novel The Biographies of Ordinary People: Volume 2: 2004–2016 is currently ranked #169,913 out of the more than one million Kindle books sold on Amazon. When Biographies Vol. 2 launched at the end of May, it ranked #26,248 in Kindle books and #94,133 in print books. At one point my book hit #220 in the subcategory “Literary Fiction/Sagas.”

So far, Biographies Vol. 2 has sold 71 Kindle copies and 55 paperbacks, which correlates to about $360 in royalties.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’ve probably been thinking it since you saw the words “self-published.” But no, those sales numbers aren’t because my books are terrible—and I didn’t self-publish because my books were terrible either. (It’s a long story, but it has to do with an agent telling me that I could rewrite Biographies to make it more marketable to the traditional publishing industry…

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How To Build An Intellectual

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Hedia Anvar | Slice | Spring/Summer 2018 | 16 minutes (3,161 words)

On the day I constructed an intellectual from scratch, my mother, all high heels and tailored skirt, would’ve taken me to the supermarket with her. I wanted badly to go but hadn’t jumped to get ready, so she left while I was still in my underwear playing in the dirt.

We lived on the second floor of a two-story old-style complex in the Shemiran quarter of Tehran. My mother’s relatives occupied the unit below. We all shared the yard where I played. Their helpers, village women in colorful head wraps, used the yard to scrub clothes and pluck chicken feathers.

In the Tehran of 1970s, women in micro-minis walked alongside those wearing full hijab. If there was a cultural difference between a modern Iranian woman and a European one, it wasn’t exemplified by my mother with her crêpe…

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Twenty-five Years After Breaking Brandon Teena’s Story: An Apology

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Village Voice journalist Donna Minkowitz apologizes 25 years after breaking the story of Brandon Teena, transgender murder victim and subject of the film Boys Don’t Cry. Realizing in hindsight it was “the most insensitive and inaccurate piece of journalism I have ever written,” Minkowitz examines what she recognizes now as her own internalized homophobia and ignorance of trans issues. 

For years, I have wanted to apologize for what I now understand, with some shame, was the article’s implicit anti-trans framing. Without spelling it out, the article cast Brandon as a lesbian who hated “her” body because of prior experiences of childhood sexual abuse and rape.

At the time, I was extremely ignorant about trans people. Like many other cis queer people at the time, I didn’t know that there were gay trans men, trans lesbians, bisexual trans folks, that being trans had nothing to do with whether you…

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Johnny Depp: We Are Concerned

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You’d think, after years as Jack Sparrow, not to mention roles in 36 movies, that Johnny Depp would be swimming in a sea of dubloons. A penchant for spending, generosity, and a laissez-faire approach to the fine details of his accounts has left Johnny’s treasure chest nigh on empty. At Rolling Stone, Stephen Rodrick attempts to see through the haze of hash to try and understand why Johnny Depp’s ship is sinking.

“So are you here to hear the truth?” asks Depp as Russell brings him a glass of vintage red wine. “It’s full of betrayal.”

We move to the dining room for a three-course meal of pad thai, duck and gingerbread with berries. Depp sits at the head of the table and motions toward some rolling papers and two equal piles of tobacco and hash, and asks if I mind. I don’t. He pauses for a second…

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It’s Time for Hooters to GTFO

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The common line about Hooters restaurants is that customers “just go there for the wings,” wink, wink. But no one’s unclear about the Hooters business model: sell sub-par food, invite clientele to objectify the female wait staff, tolerate sexual harassment, and present this all as “a family restaurant” where it’s all just fun and games, relax!

At GQJaya Saxena reexamines the boob-branded chain of sexist wing-slingers to see why our modern world, flushed with new life by the #MeToo movement, still has a place for this kind of business. Of course it shouldn’t, Saxena shows. But as long as the business model remains profitable and men dehumanize women, Hooters will continue operating as a place where men can ogle women in low cut shirts and short-shorts.

Strip clubs and sex work are still stigmatized in America. Waitresses everywhere are routinely harassed by customers, and are often told…

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“The Beasts of the Crossing Have Been Pushed Into the Light”

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There’s nothing I can say about Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s Jezebel essay, “A Theory of Animals,” about being an immigrant in the age of Trump, that is one-tenth as good as anything in the essay itself. Go read it.

Undocumented immigrants are good at surviving. We know how to find jobs, how to take care of each other when we are sick, what neighborhoods don’t require Social Security numbers to sign a lease, what public libraries have the best foreign language books, what local cops you can trust a domestic violence complaint to. We’ve built cities underground and for years we have thrived. We’ve watched Jay and Ye make “driving Benzes without benefits—not bad for some immigrants” a gangster boast. But the sun has come up on a new day. They know where we live now. They know how we’ve been surviving. They are determined to get rid…

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A Woman’s Work: Home Economics* (*I Took Woodworking Instead)

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Carolita Johnson | Longreads | June 2018 | 10 minutes (2,600 words)

By the time I was 44 I’d never lived with a boyfriend, a fact that I, a woman living under a patriarchy and not getting any younger, sometimes thought should be bothering me more, but which didn’t.

I even had fond memories of a day when I was 41 and freshly dumped, on which I woke up alone in bed, stretched out, and had a remarkable, quite unexpected realization…

"Ahhhh... this is really pleasant"

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The Camouflage Artist: Two Worlds Wars, Two Loves, and One Great Deception

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Mary Horlock | Excerpt adapted from Joseph Gray’s Camouflage: A Memoir of Art, Love and Deception | Unbound | September 2018 | 22 minutes (5,778 words)

This story starts with a picture: a vast turquoise sky, an endless yellow beach, a mother and her child playing in the sand.

My grandmother lifts a trembling hand and points towards the smallest figure.

“That is me.”

She now has a room measuring nine feet by five. There isn’t much wall space, so the picture hangs in the corridor outside, beside the sign: “No.18: Maureen Barclay.”

Maureen Barclay is a widow and there are many here. Some don’t know where they are, nor do they remember the lives they have lived. Maureen is different, she remembers plenty. But with this blessing comes a curse: the older she becomes, the more she worries what she might soon forget. She has moved into a nursing…

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Sign O’ The Times: Paisley Park Offers A Public Tour

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For The New Yorker, Amanda Petrusich tours Paisley Park, the home and recording studio of the late Prince. What she learns is that no matter how close you may get in physical proximity, even in death Prince maintains a carefully curated distance between him, his fans, and the world.

Mostly, the tour made me feel lonesome. Absent its owner, Paisley Park is a husk. In 2004, when Prince briefly rented a mansion in Los Angeles from the basketball player Carlos Boozer, he redesigned the place, putting his logo on the front gate, painting pillars purple, installing all-black carpet, and adding a night club. (Boozer threatened to sue, but Prince restored the house before he moved out.) Yet Paisley Park feels anonymous. His studios are beautiful, but unremarkable. There are many photos of him, and his symbol is omnipresent, but I was hoping for evidence of his outsized quirks and…

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