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“Now Boarding”

I’ve been woefully neglectful about maintaining this site in the past year or two, mostly due to my focus on my design business and my big upcoming nonfiction-related project. But for the record, I published this story about my obsession about texting my last words in The Morning News a while back. Worse than the fear of texting or posting something mundane as my final message is the possibility of leaving without any message at Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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Buzz Bissinger on being OK with sucky first drafts

I’ve always been a huge fan of Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, one of the best narrative nonfiction books I’ve ever read. His recent appearance on the outstanding Longform Podcast is a great listen. He covers everything from his classic book, to his more recent work, to his own personal and professional challenges, and what it’s like to struggle with doubt and confidence as a writer. Towards the end, his answer to a Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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What I Learned by Reading 31 Longreads in 31 Days

Now that I’ve wrapped up my 31 Longreads in 31 Days challenge, here are some thoughts, observations, and takeaways from the experience. 1. Longform nonfiction is alive and well With the collapse of the magazine industry and the shrinking newspaper business, many have suggested that longform nonfiction feature writing is a dying genre, with business models favoring shorter, “web-friendly” content. But I kept finding evidence to the contrary. Magazines may be vanishing, but other sources Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“The Loved Ones” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 31)

The best narrative nonfiction tells true stories with the crafts and elements of a short story, and that’s exactly what Tom Junod delivers in “The Loved Ones,” published in the September 2006 issue of Esquire. It looks at the tragedy at St. Rita’s nursing home in New Orleans, where 35 residents died in the floods of Hurricane Katrina, and the charges of negligent homicide filed against the its owners, Sal and Mabel Mangano. It is Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“The Truck Stop Killer” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 30)

The Truck Stop Killer by Vanessa Veselka in the November 2012 issue of GQ is the account of a woman’s search to uncover the history of the death of a hitchhiker left in a truck-stop dumpster. The body may have been connected to a series of young women kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by a serial killer. Veselka, who herself had been a 15-year-old runaway at the same time, had a terrifying ride with a man Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Atonement” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 29)

There is a simplicity to Dexter Filkins’ Atonement in the October 29, 2012 issue of The New Yorker: a company of Marines got into a firefight and wound up killing a number of civilians, including many members of the Kachadoorian family. Ten years later, one of the men in that company tries to find them to try and express his sorrow and regret over what he did. Photo by Andrea Bruce for The New Yorker Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“The Trading Desk” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 28)

Michael Lewis is a prolific nonfiction writer, author of The Big Short, Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, as well as hundreds of articles for The New Republic, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times. The Trading Desk, which appeared in the March 30, 2003 edition of the New York Times Magazine, was adapted from his book Moneyball, which would later be made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. But even if you never read Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“How David Beats Goliath” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 27)

As I near the end of this 31 Longreads in 31 Days challenge, I’d be remiss if I didn’t focus on at least one story by one of my favorite nonfiction writers, Malcolm Gladwell. I dissected his story on dogfighting a few years ago on this blog. Another impressive Gladwell story is How David Beats Goliath in the May 11, 2009 issue of The New Yorker. Gladwell often explores a big idea or concept and Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Looking for Someone” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 26)

I’m an admitted Nick Paumgaten fanboy, already having raved about his story on elevators and, more recently, for this series, his story on commuters. So as I worked through my pile of longreads, I read his 10,300-word examination of online dating: Looking for Someone published in the July 4, 2011 issue of the New Yorker. And it’s another great story. What impresses me the most about this story is the scope of the reporting. A Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago