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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Image: Efrem Lukatsky/AP/Press Association Images

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Who am I?

Maureen O’Hagan brings us the incredible and baffling story of a woman named ‘Lori Erica Ruff’, who died by suicide in 2010.  After her troubling death, her ex-husband discovered that a box Lori kept locked and in a wardrobe held some keys to her identity – but not all of the information. It transpired that she had changed her name from ‘Becky Sue Turner’ – but that wasn’t her real name either… Just who is this mysterious Jane Doe? (The Seattle Times) (Approx minutes 15 reading time – 3098 words)

It seems clear Lori didn’t do this for the money. So what was it? Velling checked off the possibilities. Was she running away after committing some horrible crime? Was she the victim of one? Was she fleeing an abusive relationship? Did she break free from a cult? He knows one thing for sure: “There’s no doubt she planned it out.”

2. Trash Town

Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes in Collectors Weekly that New Yorkers once lived “knee-deep in trash”, taking a look at Robin Nagle’s book Picking Up, which tackles the subject of trash in the US. This interview takes in aspects of this unusual but fascinating subject from many angles, from how dangerous a career in sanitation is, to what happened when women began working in the profession, and why dead animals were often seen lying in the streets. (Collectors Weekly) (Approx minutes 19 reading time – 3996 words)

The stuff in the bottom layers, there’s so much weight and pressure that there’s no space for any form of decomposition. So if you do a core sample, for instance, of Fresh Kills, which has been done and you pull up these early layers, you can still read the newspapers from that era. I’ve seen slide shows from archaeologists who’ve done this work and the hotdogs look like you could throw them on the grill. But they’re from the 1953 layer of Fresh Kills. So even the organics in there are not necessarily decomposing.

3. Equal Love

Chris Geidner introduces us to a woman who he says is the hero of the marriage equality movement, Edith Windsor. Now 83, she has fought for most of her life for the right for people to marry whoever they love, not just heterosexual couples. The enduring love story between her and Thea Spyer is the backdrop for Windsor’s battle for equality, and serves as an example of why the recent striking down of the Defence of Marriage Act is so important. (Buzzfeed) (Approx 15 minutes reading time – 3122 words)

She has lived a long full life, played by the rules, fallen in love, and embarked on a decades-long committed relationship. Had her spouse been a man, society would have rewarded Edie and Thea for their commitment and strength. Because Thea was a woman, the law has shown itself to be not only illogical and cruel, but blatantly discriminatory and wrong.

4. Eat up

Darragh McCausland wrote in Siren Magazine earlier this month about his experiences on Come Dine With Me. What started off as a joke became a reality that he wasn’t quite prepared for. He digs deep into what he learned from the reality TV experience, and what he would change if he had to do it again, as well as what it was like to see his own face on TV. (Siren) (Approx minutes 9 reading time – 1867 words)

Deluded to the end, I stood in the kitchen after the meal, waffling to the camera, confident as pie that the pork cheeks went down a treat. Meanwhile, upstairs, the other contestants mimed vomit motions to the camera during their post-dinner interviews. My advice for Come Dine With Me? If you want to win, cook something tried and tested. Don’t cook something with saliva glands in it.

5. The Lottery

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Ruth Franklin writes in the New Yorker about what happened after a short story called The Lottery was published in that very magazine back on June 26, 1948. The story, about a village and a strange ritual it carries out yearly, shocked readers with the depth of its darkness. Franklin meets with one of those who wrote to the New Yorker registering their disgust with the story, and finds out more about why people felt it was so gruesome and discomfiting. (New Yorker) (Approx 8 minutes reading time – 1669 words)

There were some outlandish theories. Marion Trout, of Lakewood, Ohio, suspected that the editorial staff had become “tools of Stalin.” Another reader wondered if it was a publicity stunt, while several more speculated that a concluding paragraph must have been accidentally cut by the printer. Others complained that the story had traumatized them so much that they had been unable to open any issues of the magazine since.

6. Ommm

Liz Kulze wonders how meditation works – and how much mindfulness meditation can really do for a person. She meets recovered addict Gary, who says that meditation helped him after he hit rock bottom,and Dr Katherine MacLean about how it is “a way to become familiar with your own mind”.  (The Atlantic) (Approx minutes 14 reading time – 2816 words)

He had begun meditating daily, and through this, he says he was able to more closely observe the movements and patterns of his own thoughts. He realized that he was heavy with “trauma, and anger, and fear, and resentment,” painful emotions his mind had tried its best to push away. With this, he began to see his addiction had only been a means of distraction, “a way to escape whatever emotion was arising that [he] absolutely could not handle.” He realized that for the duration of his adult life, his own mind had been lying to him.


In 1995, Andrew Corsello wrote about his near-death experience for GQ magazine. After suffering from liver failure, he found himself near death, and in his essay about this he reflects on his life and the times his body spoke to him. As his illness worsened, the messages his body gave him began to stop, and his battle for life started. (Long Reads) (Approx minutes 19 reading time – 3996 words)

When I arrive at Doc Mike’s office around four, he wheels around his desk, braces his hands against my face and peers into my eyes. “Haven’t you looked in the mirror?” he asks, leading me to an examining room. “Look.” The whites of my eyes are egg-yolk yellow. How has this gone unnoticed? The look is bizarre but not entirely unappealing—I appear lupine and clever. But when I take a step back to view the rest of my face, I see that the jaundice has given my skin a sallow translucence, like the bruising on an old pear. “Jesus,” I say, “What’s that?”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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