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The Top 5 Longreads of the Week January 18, 2013Longreads Member Exclusive: 'Forever Young,' by Jason Johnson


Become a Longreads Member for $3 a month and we'll send you full text and ebook versions of our latest exclusive stories. This week's Member pick: "Forever Young," a story by Jason Johnson for Kill Screen magazine about Hungarian developers who have spent more than 20 years building a video game for the Commodore 64.

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Read: Longreads Best of 2012
1. Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax Timothy Burke, Jack Dickey | Deadspin | January 16, 2013 | 31 minutes (7,752 words) A college football star learns about the death of his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day. Inspirational stories from major media outlets follow. But there's a problem: His girlfriend never existed:

"There was no Lennay Kekua. Lennay Kekua did not meet Manti Te'o after the Stanford game in 2009. Lennay Kekua did not attend Stanford. Lennay Kekua never visited Manti Te'o in Hawaii. Lennay Kekua was not in a car accident. Lennay Kekua did not talk to Manti Te'o every night on the telephone. She was not diagnosed with cancer, did not spend time in the hospital, did not engage in a lengthy battle with leukemia. She never had a bone marrow transplant. She was not released from the hospital on Sept. 10, nor did Brian Te'o congratulate her for this over the telephone. She did not insist that Manti Te'o play in the Michigan State or Michigan games, and did not request he send white flowers to her funeral. Her favorite color was not white. Her brother, Koa, did not inform Manti Te'o that she was dead. Koa did not exist. Her funeral did not take place in Carson, Calif., and her casket was not closed at 9 a.m. exactly. She was not laid to rest.

"Lennay Kekua's last words to Manti Te'o were not 'I love you.'"


More from Deadspin: "I Was Wayne Gretzky's (Hungover) Linemate" (Sean Pronger, Dan Murphy, January 2013)
2. An Open Letter to the Girl I Pretended To Have a Crush On in Eighth Grade Michael Hobbes | Rottin' in Denmark | January 15, 2013 | 23 minutes (5,791 words) A writer recalls being 14 years old and in the closet:

"I had never been more proud of myself. I decided to notice you so no one would notice me, and now I was not only assumed straight, but assumed worthy of conversation. I just had to keep broadcasting straightness loud enough to drown out the gay humming underneath.

"Despite having two classes together, I had still barely met you. Ms. Hughes’s class was divided into fifteen tables, each with two students. She had already changed the seating arrangement twice. We couldn’t tell if this was a deliberate strategy on her part—obedience through churn—or if she just couldn’t decide how she’d like us arranged. Each time, you and I had ended up at different ends of the class.

"‘Table six,’ she was saying as we waited near the door, 'Michael Hobbes and Tracy Dolan.'

"The class, as one, made a kind of awwwww sound, like the studio audience on 'Full House'."


More from Hobbes: "Homies: What Happened to Everyone I Went to Middle School With?" (November 2012)
3. The Longest Hunger Strike Ann Neumann | Guernica | January 15, 2013 | 21 minutes (5,454 words) A prisoner in Connecticut who is protesting his conviction by refusing food is now being force-fed. Is it torture?

"Staff turned off the video camera typically used to record medical procedures. They strapped Coleman down at 'four points' with seatbelt-like 'therapeutic' restraints. Edward Blanchette, the internist and prison medical director at the time, pushed a thick, flexible tube up Coleman’s right nostril. Rubber scraped against cartilage and bone and drew blood. Coleman howled. As the tube snaked into his throat, it kinked, bringing the force of insertion onto the sharp edges of the bent tube. They thought he was resisting so they secured a wide mesh strap over his shoulders to keep him from moving. A nurse held his head. Blanchette finally realized that the tube had kinked and pulled it back out. He pushed a second tube up Coleman’s nose, down his throat, and into his stomach. Blanchette filled the tube with vanilla Ensure. Coleman’s nose bled. He gagged constantly against the tube. He puked. As they led him back to his cell, the cuffs of Coleman’s gray sweatshirt were soaked with snot, saliva, vomit, and blood."

More Guernica: "Reporting Poverty" (Emily Brennan, September 2012)
4. Is PTSD Contagious? Mac McClelland | Mother Jones | January 2, 2013 | 15 minutes (3,892 words) Inside the families that are affected by returning veterans with PTSD:

"Brannan and Katie's teacher have conferenced about Katie's behavior many times. Brannan's not surprised she's picked up overreacting and yelling—you don't have to be at the Vines residence for too long to hear Caleb hollering from his room, where he sometimes hides for 18, 20 hours at a time, and certainly not if you're there during his nightmares, which Katie is. 'She mirrors…she just mirrors' her dad's behavior, Brannan says. She can't get Katie to stop picking at the sores on her legs, sores she digs into her own skin with anxious little fingers. She is not, according to Brannan, 'a normal, carefree six-year-old.'"

More McClelland: "I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave" (February 2012)
5. Scientific Families: Dynasty Ed Yong | Nature | January 16, 2013 | 13 minutes (3,293 words) A look at ecologist Bob Paine, whose mentorship has produced a long line of influential scientists throughout his five-decade career:

"Soon, Paine's students were growing up and embarking on careers of their own. Few have spawned as rich a legacy as Jane Lubchenco and Bruce Menge. They met as graduate students in Paine's lab in 1969, married two years later and began a partnership that has generated more than 31 students and 19 postdocs. After the pair left Paine's lab, they took his experimental approach to the US east coast; she focused on plants and herbivores, while he concentrated on predators. By enclosing, excluding and removing species at different points along the New England shore, they showed that fierce waves can keep predators such as starfish at bay, allowing mussels to dominate. But in sheltered areas, predators kept mussels under control, allowing Irish moss (Chondrus crispus), a type of red alga, to take over. The work revealed how the environment can control interactions between species."

More Nature: "Stress: The Roots of Resilience" (Virginia Hughes, October 2012)
Fiction Pick: Experience Tessa Hadley | The New Yorker | January 14, 2013 | 14 minutes (3,317 words) A woman whose marriage is ending finds a new place to live:

"When my marriage fell apart one summer, I had to get out of the little flat in Kentish Town, where I had been first happy and then sad. I arranged to live for a few months in another woman’s house; she agreed to let me stay there rent-free, because she was going to America and wanted someone to keep an eye on things. I didn’t know Hana very well; she was a friend of a friend. I found her intimidating—she was tall and big-boned and gushing, with a high forehead and a curvaceous strong jaw, a mass of chestnut-colored curls. But I liked the idea of having her three-story red brick London town house all to myself."

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Ted is a midwestern journalist, critic and undergraduate student at a nondescript state university.
"The recent 60 Minutes segment on the transformation of the Times-Picayune prodded me to revisit "The Sometimes-Picayune" this week. In comparison to this masterful piece, the broadcast segment seemed sterile, lifeless. Chris Rose's essay is a humane consideration of the inimitable bond between New Orleans and its once-daily newspaper—a bond that was displayed so clearly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 'Abandoned, lied to, ripped off, and generally failed by government and big business, the people of New Orleans found their unified voice through the Picayune.' This devastatingly beautiful celebration of and elegy to a newspaper that 'in a city with a dozen distinct accents...was the voice of them all' adds resonance to how profoundly sad it is that New Orleans is now the largest city in America without a daily paper."
The Sometimes-Picayune Chris Rose | Oxford American | Aug. 27 2012 | 15 minutes (3,812 words)
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