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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 21 November, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: How a billion-dollar blood company began to fall apart

Grab 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. He was born to run

Springsteen depression Bruce Springsteen and Patty Scialfa in 2014 Source: Brian Lawless

This Vanity Fair profile of Bruce Springsteen has been doing the rounds of late – not least because it contained the revelation that he has suffered from depression.

(Vanity Fair, approx 26 mins reading time)

It is not uncommon for an artist to grow wary of a signature song—Robert Plant has referred to Stairway to Heaven as “that wedding song,” and Frank Sinatra called Strangers in the Night a “piece of shit”—but Springsteen has never tired of Born to Run, which he wrote at age 24 in a small rental cottage in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Expressly conceived as an important work, it took him six months to piece together all of its elements.

2. How Edward Snowden escaped Hong Kong

As the world searched for whistleblower Edward Snowden, he took shelter in Hong Kong – and here’s the story of the people who helped him escape.

(National Post, approx 44 mins reading time)

Fearing the media would surround and follow Snowden — making it easier for the Hong Kong authorities to arrest the one-time Central Intelligence Agency analyst on behalf of the US — his lawyers made him virtually disappear for two weeks from June 10 to June 23, 2013, before he emerged on an Aeroflot airplane bound for Moscow, where he remains stranded today in self-imposed exile.

3. Knives out

shutterstock_364151948 Source: Shutterstock/HAKINMHAN

Ever wondered what it’s like to be the kind of food critic whose work could make or break a restaurant? Meet Pete Wells of the New York Times. He writes a review a week – and always visits in disguise: being the ‘least interesting person in the room’. But often, he’s spotted.

(New Yorker, approx 26 mins reading time)

Nurnberger became our server. Wells is an unassuming man who has become used to causing a stir, and this can be disorienting: it’s odd to hear him wonder, not unreasonably, if restaurants ever think of bugging his table. But a restaurant can’t openly acknowledge him.

4. People smuggling

Kathy Dobie meets Elden Kidd, a ‘coyote’ and people smuggler who has worked along the US-Mexico border.

(GQ, approx 26 mins reading time)

Besides providing the two kids with dark-colored life jackets and boogie boards, Elden had fastened duck decoys on their heads, so if anyone would happen to spot them on a moonless night, in the rain, hundreds of yards from shore, they would see only a couple of ducks bobbing on the ocean surface. It had taken the girls three weeks to get this far, and this was the last leg of their journey, his leg, at $5,000 a head.

5. The Theranos disaster

Theranos Sanctions Source: AP/Press Association Images

Elizabeth Holmes was lauded as one of the top tech entrepreneurs – but in the last few months, the corporation she founded has started to fall apart. This exclusive profile delves into what happened.

(Vanity Fair, approx 26 mins reading time)

Holmes had learned a lot from Jobs. Like Apple, Theranos was secretive, even internally. Just as Jobs had famously insisted at 1 Infinite Loop, 10 minutes away, that departments were generally siloed, Holmes largely forbade her employees from communicating with one another about what they were working on—a culture that resulted in a rare form of executive omniscience. At Theranos, Holmes was founder, C.E.O., and chairwoman.

6. Notes on domesticity

Why do we want to make our domestic space a ‘certain way’, and what happens when it’s more pretty than it is livable? Rachel Cusk tackles domesticity.

(New York Times, approx 26 mins reading time)

At home, everywhere I looked I now seemed to see a hidden part of myself that was publicly exposed: The numberless private decisions I had made, from the colors on the walls to the bathroom taps, were exhibited for all to see. What’s more, the very people — my family and friends — for whom this vision was realized threatened by their presence to defile it.


Gene Wilder death Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Actor Gene Wilder died recently, which was a blow to anyone who loved his work on films like Willy Wonka. Here’s a profile of Wilder from 1975, which appeared in the Village Voice.

(Longform, approx 7 mins reading time)

“I’ve been married twice to Catholic girls. That’s a perfectly Jewish thing to do. But I’m really still insecure. Analysis has helped, but actors are all exhibitionists. My analyst said ‘it’s better than running naked through Central Park,’ and he’s right. In some ways fame is gratifying, but you have to be very careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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