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HELLO and welcome to the 107th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about David Foster Wallace! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.
I’m currently in Ottawa with my girlfriend’s family so it’s not been a big week for reading, but I read some things on the airplane!
American Warlord (September 2008), by Johnny Dwyer for Rolling Stone – “Chucky Taylor was an ordinary suburban teenager – until he went to live with his father, one of Africa’s most brutal dictators. How did a kid from Orlando end up as the first U.S. citizen on trial for torture abroad?”
**Invisible Child: Girl In the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life (December 2013), by Andrea Elliot with photographs by Ruth Fremson for The New York Times - This is one of those big multi-media stories you need to set aside some serious time for and the time you set aside will be worth it. It’ll take a solid afternoon to read. It’s a story about child poverty, the homeless shelter system in New York, the results of increasing gentrification and wealth inequality and the mismanagement of city facilities funding — all told through the story of one 12-year-old girl named Dasani, the oldest child of eight siblings, struggling against all odds to not fall into the same cycle of poverty that defined her parents’ existence.
Death of a Professor (November 2013), by L.V. Anderson for Slate – “An 83-year-old French instructor’s undignified death became a cause célèbre for exploited academics. But what really happened to Margaret Mary Vojtko?”
Agent Scully (December 2013) by Emma Brown for Interview - A delightful interview with Alison Janey about her acting career and her latest big roles in Masters of Sex (her storyline is my favorite on the show actually) and the Anna Faris sitcom Mom.
When Minority Students Attend Elite Public Schools (December 2013), by Judith Ohikuare for The Atlantic – “Many parents of color send their children to exclusive, predominantly white schools in an attempt to give their kids a “ticket to upward mobility.” But these well-resourced institutions can fall short at nurturing minority students emotionally and intellectually.” (The author was the second black girl to join her year’s 60-member student body at Chapin in 6th grade, and therefore has a compelling perspective.)
The Oral History of Buffy The Vampire Slayers’ Nerd Villains (December 2013), by Jennifer Vineyard for Vulture – I don’t think I have to sell you on this one. But there’s also some interesting bits in here not just about where these ideas and nerd culture references came from and about the killing of Tara, but also about evil in the wake of 9/11 and how characters can’t escape their moral failures.
David Foster Wallace Hanging Out in Pomona (April 2003), by Paul Brownfield for The Los Angeles Times – This journalist wants to talk to David Foster Wallace who has just started teaching at Pomona College and so he finally gets him to talk and then he wrote this article and now you can read it.
Behold! The Heartbreaking, Hair-Raising Tale Of Freak Show Star Julia Pastrana, Mexico’s Monkey Woman, by Tim Stelloh for Buzzfeed – “Julia Pastrana was born in the 1830s in Mexico, severely deformed and covered in hair, then became an international sensation. After she died in 1860, her mummified remains became an equally public curiosity, and only now, 153 years later, is she finally resting in peace.”
Almost Human: The Surreal Cyborg Future of Telemarketing, by Alexis C. Madrigal for The Atlantic – Okay reading this one requires listening to little sound clips as well so be sure you can do that. At first it was sort of predictable but then it got more interesting talking about how these systems allegedly improve the psychological health of their employees.