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“Lottery Winner Jack Whittaker’s Losing Ticket” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 15)

It’s a cliché to say that money can’t buy happiness, but in the case of Jack Whittaker, who won $314.9 million in the Powerball lottery in 2002, the story is a lot worse than that. In a story that feel like it was pulled from a Hollywood screenplay, Lottery Winner Jack Whittaker’s Losing Ticket by David Samuel in the December 12, 2012 issue of BusinessWeek, breaks down Whittaker’s misfortunes after winning the lottery. Photo by Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 14)

Within the narrative nonfiction, there is a wide range of genres, including, but not limited to: history, profiles, reported essays, investigative reports, and longform features. And then you occasionally get something like this, which is harder to classify, other than that it’s simply a great story. The Most Amazing Bowling Story Ever by Michael J. Mooney in D Magazine reads like a fictional short story, but it’s true. Photo by Tadd Myers The story centers Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“The Secret History of Guns” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 13)

As a big fan of authors like Adam Hochschild and Laura Hillenbrand, I’m always impressed with writers who can write about history in a riveting, colorful way. So many of the history books I read in high school and college were lifeless, tedious marches through events, places, and dates. But the best modern nonfiction writers like Hillenbrand and Hochschild make history feel fresh, vibrant, and relevant. Adam Winkler’s The Secret History of Guns” from the Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Netherland” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day 12)

When I read through the latest issue of The New Yorker, I thought that I might write-up my take on two other longform pieces in the magazine, the profile of Alabama radio host Paul Finebaum or Ken Auletta’s feature on Elisabeth Murdoch. But the story that grabbed me instantly and haunted me after I put it down was Rachel Aviv’s feature on homeless gay, lesbian, and transgender youth in New York City, “Netherland.” Photo by Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Walking His Life Away” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Eleven)

A year ago, a good friend send me a copy of Gary Smith’s book, Going Deep, a collection of his longform articles from Sports Illustrated. Smith is a masterful writer who mostly covers sports. But that’s misleading: he writes about people. Some are pro athletes; some never make it to college. He writes about the biggest champions of the game; but also about people whose dreams of glory and fame never arrived. He gets to Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“A Wicked Wind Takes Aim” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Ten)

In April 20, 2004, a massive tornado descended on the town of Utica, Illinois, taking with it the lives of eight residents. The sudden destruction of the tornado instantly devastated the community. Julie Keller of the Chicago Tribune wrote a three-part series on the tragedy that subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. Reading the series, it’s not hard to see why. Her work is powerful, suspenseful, and superbly researched. And it reads like Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Todd Marinovich: The Man Who Never Was” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Nine)

Mike Sager’s 9800-word profile of Todd Marinovich for the May 2009 edition of Esquire is an impressive work. It details the rise and fall of Marinovich from prep star, to USC standout, to NFL washout, to drug addict and convict. The quarterback’s story has so many plot twists, so many highs and lows, it almost seems too melodramatic to be true. Photo: Getty Images Sager doesn’t hide where the story is going. By the sixth Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Waiting for Bigfoot” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Eight)

Colleen O’Neil’s “Waiting for Bigfoot,” is barely a “longform” article at just under 3000 words, but since it’s about twice the length of a typical Slate or Salon story, I say it qualifies. O’Neil’s story takes her on an outing with a group of Ohio Bigfoot enthusiasts/researchers. The tone of the story is light, but respectful. She doesn’t openly mock the group, though she’s clearly a nonbeliever. But she observes and listens to the people Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“There and Back Again” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Seven)

“There and Back Again,” by Nick Paumgarten for The New Yorker in April 2007, explores the issue of commuting from a wide range of angles: the impact on workers, trade-offs commuters make, and overall trends of sprawl, commuting, and social isolation. It’s an incredible story. Paumgarten looks at the issue from the perspectives of four long-range commuters, a handful of experts and academics, and a body of historical, sociological, and psychological research on the topic. Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago
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“Atari Teenage Riot: The Inside Story Of Pong and the Video Game Industry’s Big Bang” (31 Longreads in 31 Days, Day Six)

When I was ten, my brother and I would get up early on Saturdays, swipe the quarters off our dressers, and wait outside Zip’z, a local ice cream / “make you your own sundae” shop so we could be the first inside to play Asteroids. As a Gen X child of the ’80s, my formative years were deeply shaped by the dawn of the videogame era. Aside from the Six-Million-Dollar Man and Bo Derek, few Read more…

By Matt Pusateri, ago