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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: Inside the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Natalie Oxford/PA

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. The falling tower

The great writer Andrew O’Hagan has begun a series looking at what happened inside Grenfell Tower on the night of the tragic fire.

(London Review of Books, approx 298 mins reading time)

 In the 15th century, ‘tower’ was another way of naming heaven. But Rania always felt Grenfell Tower was too tall. They were at the top and you could see the Hammersmith and City trains coming in and out of Latimer Road Station. From some of the flats you could see the cars, like ants, crawling up the Westway, and from others you were looking at the financial district, all those new towers in the distance with the Shard in the middle.

2. Hell on wheels

An in-depth look at the world of private trash collectors, taking in along the way: fatal accidents, dangerous work, and people working off the books.

(ProPublica, approx 40 mins reading time)

 Then, nearing the end of a shift on Nov. 7, 2017, Diallo wound up crushed to death under the wheels of a Sanitation Salvage truck. The men he’d been helping lied to the police, saying their dead colleague was a homeless person who had come out of nowhere. The police took them at their word, and Diallo was buried quietly by his family, the circumstances of his death a cynical fiction.

3. Wrestling in Paris

Andrew Kay journeys to Paris for a competition that will determine who the best wrestlers in the world are. And while he’s there, he wonders if this has parallels to the current global political situation.

(The Point Magazine, approx 55 mins reading time)

To a degree scarcely fathomable to most Americans, wrestling is interwoven in the daily lives and customs of many of the world’s peoples. In the Bosnian countryside one finds wedding receptions where amateur wrestlers are hired to compete, for the guests’ entertainment, on mats near the dance floor. So revered are the best wrestlers in Iran, they get called into the homes of ordinary people to resolve domestic disputes.

4. The rage of the incels

A look at what incels are, what they believe in, and why their aim is not just to create a balanced ‘sexual marketplace’.

(The New Yorker, approx 13 mins reading time)

In the past few years, a subset of straight men calling themselves “incels” have constructed a violent political ideology around the injustice of young, beautiful women refusing to have sex with them. These men often subscribe to notions of white supremacy. They are, by their own judgment, mostly unattractive and socially inept. (They frequently call themselves “subhuman.”) They’re also diabolically misogynistic.

5. Is body positivity a scam?

That’s what Amanda Mull posits in this article, which takes apart everything from Dove ads to the current Instagram body positivity trend.

(Refinery29, approx 15 mins reading time)

The problem with using subversion as a corporate marketing tactic, though, is that if the brand is successful at it, the point it’s making becomes immediately non-subversive. And Dove was very successful at it — the beauty industry had always worked so hard to obscure its tactics and encode its negativity that many consumers felt understandably relieved to see the manipulation acknowledged, even if the only solution Dove offered was the opportunity to buy its products.

6. Summer of love

To celebrate the summer, New York Times photographers spent 24 hours photographing love in NYC. The result is beautiful and fascinating.

(The New York Times, varying reading times)

In New York, love tends to attach itself to the cityscape. It infuses the concrete and lingers in particular places like ghosts: buildings and awnings and outcroppings of rock in Central Park. Every staircase and streetlamp is alive with infinite histories. My personal New York love story includes some things that still exist and many things that don’t: a saintly dachshund, the blizzard of 2003, a particular bakery’s chocolate muffin, a Russian barber in Queens, couples therapy, ice cream in winter and a huge pink cocktail at the Algonquin Hotel


The frankly legendary food writer, TV presenter and chef Anthony Bourdain died tragically this week, aged just 61. Here’s a fantastic profile of him from last year.

(The New Yorker, approx 64 mins reading time)

He freely admits that his career is, for many people, a fantasy profession. A few years ago, in the voice-over to a sun-dappled episode in Sardinia, he asked, “What do you do after your dreams come true?” Bourdain would be easy to hate, in other words, if he weren’t so easy to like. “For a long time, Tony thought he was going to have nothing,” his publisher, Dan Halpern, told me. “He can’t believe his luck. He always seems happy that he actually is Anthony Bourdain.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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