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Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Shutterstock/katatonia82 File photo of Ukraine fans
# 7 great reads
Sitdown Sunday: The inside story of Ukraine's World Cup qualifier victory
Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. RIP Paula Rego

A look at the incredible career and life of the artist Paula Rego, who died this week.

(The Guardian, approx 8 mins reading time)

Artists as diverse as Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach and David Hockney were interpreting the fragile, mortal stuff of human bodies and faces in daring, radical, enduring ways. Rego was to add a completely different and original dimension to this “school of London”, as some called it, by mixing a pummelling, unforgiving yet erotic eye for the physical with storytelling that was bigger, more free and more cinematic than her British realist contemporaries. And she has a distinct perspective on the games of power she paints: she is the daughter, not the policeman.

2. Tim’s real life

Tim Brown seemed to be the typical Florida retiree, but his life was built on a secret.

(The Atavist, approx 44 mins reading time)

A carpenter by trade, Brown had spent much of his life enjoying the outdoors. In his younger days, he was an expert scuba diver and deep-sea fisherman. But now, at 66, his age had finally caught up with him. His close-cropped hair had gone gray, and health issues had him in and out of the hospital. During the past year alone, he’d suffered two heart attacks. Flying offered the chance, as Brown put it, “to continue the fun.” He’d fallen in love with aviation years earlier, after taking a charter trip with friends in Alaska. Flying sure beat staring at the trees on either side of the road, he said. This was the kind of enthusiastic attitude that made Brown popular in Love’s Landing. 

3. November Rain

The music video for the song November Rain is iconic – but did you know about its bonkers production?

(Los Angeles Time, approx 11 mins reading time)

“November Rain” cost a reported $1.5 million, making it the most expensive music video of its time — a milestone that was quickly surpassed but that drew much negative media attention because of Rose’s increasingly volatile reputation. Fans may have embraced the video, but it was regarded by many cultural tastemakers as excessive, indulgent, bloated — particularly in contrast to Nirvana’s gritty, low-budget “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” released a few months earlier.

4. Sally Rooney

Interviews with Sally Rooney are few and far between these days, but here’s a really interesting email exchange between her and the also excellent writer Patricia Lockwood.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time)

In my life online, ahahas and raccoon videos are for messaging and tweets. My emails (in life and in fiction) are formally pure. You say “letters”, but I say, no. They’re just obviously not letters. They’re emails. They autosave in a drafts folder during composition, they arrive at the instant of being sent, and each one is visible and searchable at all times to both sender and recipient. Back when I was writing my first novel, which was in the first person, I remember thinking of the narrative technique as “email voice”. I wanted the narrative to have an email-like quality.

5. Streaming addiction

Jeremy D Larson writes about streaming services give fans – and what’s below the surface of it all.

(Pitchfork, approx 16 mins reading time)

The truth is that if you’re using Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or any other streaming service, you’re not paying for music so much as the opportunity to witness the potential of music. Music becomes an advertisement for the streaming service, and the more time and attention you give it, the more it benefits the tech company, not necessarily the music ecosystem. In Spotify, each song’s play count is prominently displayed, in effect gamifying the music industry so that tracks tacitly compete against one another inside the app.

6. The big win

The inside story of the night of Ukraine’s stunning World Cup qualifier victory.

(ESPN, approx 19 mins reading time)

His name is Volodya and before the war he worked as an IT guy. Just before the game got underway, there were moments when he seemed to disappear, his body here in his hometown but his mind back with his brothers in arms. He scrolled through his phone and looked at photos and videos from the combat. He handed over his phone to show me two dead Russian soldiers. He called his friends back at the front line. They are so close to Russia they can and do take potshots at the enemy border guards. His buddies in the trenches crowded around the phone to talk to him.


It was Stevie Nicks’ birthday recently – so here’s a look back at a feature on her in September 1981.

(Rolling Stone, approx 22 mins reading time)

Retiring for the night, Stevie turned off the light in her huge shadowy bedroom. Suddenly, she was startled by the sound of rapidly flapping wings in the blackness. The noise abruptly ceased. Then came a queer whir, and something brushed against her cheek. She froze. The light she had just extinguished sprang on and she was so petrified she could not scream, could not even speak. Ten minutes passed as she cowered in mute terror; then she stumbled down the damp hallway to the room of her secretary, Debbie Alsbury, who calmed and reassured her. She eventually made her way back to her bed and fell into a troubled sleep.

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