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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: First dates, Bjork's heartbreak, and men's rights

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

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. Bjork and heartbreak

Peru Bjork AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The awesome Bjork talks to Pitchfork about her new album, which was inspired by a terrible break-up. Plus, she gives an insight into sexism in the music industry.

(Pitchfork, approx 17 mins reading time, 3476 words)

I have nothing against Kanye West. Help me with this—I’m not dissing him—this is about how people talk about him. With the last album he did, he got all the best beatmakers on the planet at the time to make beats for him. A lot of the time, he wasn’t even there. Yet no one would question his authorship for a second.

2. Love the ukulele

Ukulele Festival PA Archive / Press Association Images PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

You might think it’s a hipster instrument, but the ukulele has a fascinating history. Here’s its background.

(The Atlantic, approx 10 mins reading time, 2061 words)

a Portuguese immigrant named Joao Fernandez jumped off the boat and started strumming and singing with his branguinha (a small guitar-like instrument, sometimes called the machete). The crowd of Hawaiians were so impressed by his fingerboard prestidigitations that they called the instrument “ukulele,” which translates to “jumping flea.”

3. A bizarre first date

shutterstock_125491448 Shutterstock / shy Shutterstock / shy / shy

Lois DeSocio was recently separated after 30 years of marriage when she met a guy on eHarmony. Neither of them could have imagined what they’d find in common…

(Buzzfeed, approx 12 mins reading time, 2332 words)

Three years ago, when I was 56, I suggested to my husband that he move out of our house in New Jersey. Our marriage had been faltering for years. As he was settling into his new apartment in Manhattan, he called. He was struggling. He said that he didn’t want a divorce. He was sorry for his part in our breakup.

4. Archiving the internet

shutterstock_155734379 Shutterstock / Denis Rozhnovsky Shutterstock / Denis Rozhnovsky / Denis Rozhnovsky

We might think that web pages just disappear when we delete them, but thanks to some sites, like the Wayback Machine, many of them are being archived. Here’s how they do it.

(New Yorker, approx 31 mins reading time, 6355 words)

He just wanted to see if it would fit. How big is the Web? It turns out, he said, that it’s twenty feet by eight feet by eight feet, or, at least, it was on the day he measured it. How much did it weigh? Twenty-six thousand pounds. He thought that meant something. He thought people needed to know that.

5. Mad men

shutterstock_209656429 Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens / Sergey Nivens

What exactly is the ‘men’s rights’ movement, and who are the people involved in it? This profile of the father of the movement, Warren Farrell, sheds more light on the topic.

(Mother Jones, approx 33 mins reading time, 6606 words)

For some, the “manosphere” offers a place to air real grievances about issues such as bias in family courts or sexual abuse suffered by men. But it also has spawned a network of activists and sites that take Farrell’s ideology in a disturbing direction. Men’s rights forums on sites like 4chan and Reddit are awash in misogyny and anti-feminist vitriol.

6. They set me on fire 

shutterstock_118522717 Shutterstock / Archiwiz Shutterstock / Archiwiz / Archiwiz

Sasha Fleischman was set on fire while taking the bus home from school one day. The impact of that action – by a 16-year-old boy – shook a community.

(New York Magazine, approx 36 mins reading time, 7315 words)

As Sasha slept, three teenage boys laughed and joked nearby. Then one surreptitiously flicked a lighter. The skirt went up in a ball of flame. Sasha leapt up, screaming, “I’m on fire!” Two other passengers threw Sasha to the ground and extinguished the flames, but Sasha’s legs were left charred and peeling.


Joan Didion and John Dunne AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

American writers Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne had a long and dedicated marriage. Their careers blossomed almost in unison (though Dunne took a while to cath up with his wife), and at some points they hit the bestseller lists at the same time. In 1987, Leslie Garris profiled the couple.

(New York Times, approx 32 mins reading time, 6439 words)

Disaster is, in fact, one of the major themes in both their work. But of the two, it is Didion who has written most personally about her pervasive fear of catastrophe. As she smiles, standing by a child’s chair piled high with jaunty sun hats, I find it hard to reconcile the image of this reserved, refined woman with the writer who has revealed so much personal anguish to the world.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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