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Sitdown Sunday: A crime beyond belief

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

Image: Shutterstock/PhotosbyAndy

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. Living with the voices

The story of people who decided to live with voices they were hearing.

(New York Times, approx 33 mins reading time)

The voice who had been with her longest warned of catastrophes coming for her family in Zionsville, a town north of Indianapolis, calamities tied in some unspecified way to TV images from the gulf war: fighter planes, flashes in the sky, explosions on the ground, luminous and all-consuming. A woman’s voice castigated her at school, telling her that her clothes smelled and that she had better keep her hand down, no matter that she knew the answers to the teacher’s questions. 

2. The Staircase

Sophie Brunet, a French filmmaker, on the new series THe Staircase and what it gets wrong about her relationship with Michael Peterson.

(Vanity Fair, approx 12 mins reading time)

Peterson, who is 17 years older than Brunet, responded to the editor’s letters and began a steady correspondence—with Brunet writing from her home in Paris and Peterson writing from the correctional institution where he was serving out his sentence in North Carolina. Over the following months, the friendship escalated to an emotional affair. “I want to stress that I did not fall in love with Michael through the footage [I saw in] Paris, but through corresponding, during the time he was in prison and I was working on many other films with many other filmmakers,” adds Brunet.

3. Marianna’s story

Marianna Vyshemirsky was pictured, bloodied and shocked, after a Mariupol hospital was struck during the Ukraine invasion. Here, she talks about how her image was used in a disinformation campaign. 

(BBC, approx 7 mins reading time)

A photo of a heavily pregnant woman fleeing a bombed maternity hospital became one of the most iconic images of the war in Ukraine. But its subject was targeted by an extraordinary Russian disinformation campaign and she received hate from both sides. Wrapped in a duvet with her forehead bloodied, Marianna Vyshemirsky’s image was seen around the world. The photo above was taken in the aftermath of a Russian airstrike in Mariupol. It circulated online, on newspaper front pages, and was argued about at the UN Security Council.

4. Clarence and Ginni Thomas

A deep-dive into the world of the US Supreme Court justice and his wife, who want an ultra conservative America.

(New York Times, approx 1 hour reading time)

Ginni Thomas insists, in her council biography, that she and her husband operate in “separate professional lanes,” but those lanes in fact merge with notable frequency. For the three decades he has sat on the Supreme Court, they have worked in tandem from the bench and the political trenches to take aim at targets like Roe v. Wade and affirmative action. Together they believe that “America is in a vicious battle for its founding principles,” as Ginni Thomas has put it. Her views, once seen as on the fringe, have come to dominate the Republican Party.

5. What is Mercury in Retrograde?

How did the concept of ‘Mercury in Retrograde’ take over the internet?

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(Harper’s Bazaar, approx 11 mins reading time)

The answers are neither out in space nor buried in the digital realm but found in the age-old tendency to study and interpret the sky above our heads, seeking to explain the inexplicable. Astrology is often dismissed as unserious and unworthy of academic study; its central tenets—our place in the world and where we’re going—are concerned with feelings and predictions and ephemeral states. But it’s for precisely these reasons that astrology and, increasingly, Mercury are looked upon to help us make sense of a world that seems to make less and less of it.

6. A Crime Beyond Belief

The story of a kidnapping deemed a hoax – and a newbie detective who cracked the case.

(The Atavist, approx 29 mins reading time)

En route to the scene, she’d been filled in on the case. Around 3:30 a.m. the previous Friday, a 52-year-old nurse named Lynn Yen, who lived at the edge of Dublin, the suburb east of San Francisco where Carausu worked, had called 911. Minutes earlier, Lynn and her 60-year-old husband, Chung, woke to a flashlight and a laser shining in their faces. A masked man dressed in black stood at the foot of their bed. “We have your daughter, and she’s safe,” the man said. Kelly, 22, had been in her bedroom across the hall. Using what Lynn described as a “calm, soft voice,” the intruder told the couple to turn over and put their hands behind their backs. Then he announced that he would tie them up. 

…AND ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In South Korea, hikikomori are people who have withdrawn from society. It was assumed they might have coped well with the pandemic. But it brought its own distinct challenges.

(Wired, approx 19 mins reading time)

At this time, Kim Jae-ju was 29 years old and in the most extreme phase of his social seclusion. He’d already spent, off and on but mostly on, two years in his bedroom, and he would go on to spend another eight in the same manner. In this three-by-three-metre box, with little more furniture than a bed, desk and chair, Kim kept confined for close to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year – eating and smoking and staring at his computer screen.

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