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Sitdown Sunday: The sinking of the Estonia

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

Image: PA Archive/PA 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. How the Manchester rapist found his victims

A chilling look at the activities of Reynhard Sinaga, who was recently jailed for his crimes.

(BBC, approx 14 mins reading time)

Sinaga typically approached his victims in the street. The rapist operated in a small area surrounding his flat. His targets were men mostly in their late teens or early 20s who had been out drinking, often in the nearby nightclubs. Some were on their way home, others had become separated from friends. Many were too drunk to remember their conversation with Sinaga, but for those who did there was no indication of a sexual motive. Sinaga used various pretexts to entice each to his flat.

2. The retired couple who find drowning victims

Gene and Sandy Ralston helped an Irish family find their son after he drowned in Australia. Here, some of the most interesting and tragic cases they worked on are explored – along with the importance of their work.

(The Guardian, approx 24 mins reading time)

The next morning, the Ralstons were briefed by FBI agents on a series of kidnappings for ransom that had turned into murders. The families of four victims of abduction had wired more than $1.2m between them to an account in New York, which then transferred the money to a bank in Dubai. But the bodies of the victims were now thought to be lying at the bottom of a reservoir just east of Yosemite national park. The killers, the FBI said, were possibly connected to the Russian mafia.

3. Parasite

You’ve probably seen mention of the Korean film Parasite in Oscar discussions – and you’ll hear even more about it when it reaches Irish cinemas on 8 February. Here’s an interview with its director, Bong Joon-ho.

(Vulture, approx mins reading time)

Bong remembers one fateful meeting in Tribeca when he and Weinstein watched the movie together. “Wow, you are a genius,” he would say. “Let’s cut out the dialogue.” Bong was at a loss: Cutting 25 minutes felt like taking out a major organ. Without the dialogue, the movie became incoherent; character motivation made no sense. That day, he managed to save one scene, the moment when a train guard guts a fish in front of the rebels as a show of intimidation. Bong and his cinematographer loved that shot. “Harvey hated it. Why fish? We need action!” Bong remembers. “I had a headache in that moment: What do I do? So suddenly, I said, ‘Harvey, this shot means something to me.’ ”

4. The real Faith Hope Consolo

The New York real estate star Faith Hope Consolo told a fascinating story about her upmarket upbringing. But how much of it was real?

(New York Times, approx mins reading time)

Shortly after the obituary was published, I received a message through LinkedIn, the kind that every journalist dreads. “I hate to challenge your reporting,” wrote a woman who claimed to have been a childhood friend of Ms. Consolo’s, “but the information you provided about Faith’s early years is absolutely untrue.” She said she had proof.

5. You guys are scaring me

Almost thirty years ago, a woman told police she was raped by three members of the New York Mets. The men were never charged – so what happened?

(Slate, approx 35 mins reading time)

“My gut feeling said something is wrong here,” Powell would say, one year later, in a detailed statement to police. “Some bad karma or something; something did not feel right.” When the other Mets had left Banana Max, she recalled, they’d said they were going in a different direction. “You guys lied to me,” she remembered telling them. She said they laughed and offered her a beer.

6. Happy as Larry David

Who wouldn’t want to read a profile of Larry David?

(GQ, approx 25 mins reading time)

“Jerry said I dressed like an Upper West Side communist,” David says, referring to the Jerry with whom he created Seinfeld, back in 1989. I think of the look as Alpha TV Writer: In a profession where status is measured by how casually and comfortably one can arrive at work, David’s wardrobe qualifies as a kind of normcore bling.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

This classic from 2004 is a chilling but fascinating read: it’s about when the ferry Estonia sank in 1994 during a major storm. 850 people died in the incident.

(The Atlantic, approx 40 mins reading time)

The two men jumped up, and had taken only a few steps toward the exit when the heel increased to an angle that Thiger estimated to be about 30 degrees. There was immediate panic in the pub, with much shouting. The bar counter stood along a wall on the pub’s port side. The bartender had braced herself behind it, but she collapsed screaming under a deluge of bottles and glasses. Refrigerators came loose, and stools slipped out from under the patrons who clung to the countertop to keep from falling.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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