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The Guardian

62 articles
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"There Is Going to Be a Destruction ... the Obliteration of a Person"

A wife’s notes on her husband’s last months.

Excerpted from The Iceberg.

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Has David Birnbaum Solved The Mystery of Existence?

A jeweler from Queens tries to crack the code.

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Chris Brown: 'It Was the Biggest Wake-Up Call'

“The first point he makes several times is that his new album will appeal to everyone; the second is that he is a changed man who’s grown up and calmed down. All I can say with certainty is that Brown is a stranger to the concepts of modesty and consistency.”

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Delhi Rape: How India's Other Half Lives

On the lives of the men who gang-raped a woman on a Delhi bus last year, the life of their victim, and the people left out of India’s growing prosperity.

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The Testament of Mary [Excerpt]

In this excerpt from Colm Tóibín's Booker-nominated novel, Mary recounts the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

"I know, because Marcus told me, that Mary and Martha, the two sisters of the dead boy, began to follow my son once they had heard the news of the lame walking and the blind seeing. And I understand that they would have done anything in those last silent days. They watched helplessly as their brother grew easily towards death in the same way as a source for a river, hidden under the earth, begins flowing and carries water across a plain to the sea. They would have done anything to divert the stream, make it meander on the plain and dry up under the weight of the sun. They would have done anything to keep their brother alive. They sent word to my son and they asked him to come but he did not. It was something I learned when I saw him myself, that, if the time was not right, he would not be disturbed by a merely human voice, or the pleadings of anyone he knew."

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Firestorm

The story behind the iconic photograph of the Holmes family, hiding in the water amidst violent Tasmanian bushfires.

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Is She for Real?

On a cruise with Syvlia Browne, the controversial psychic famous for telling distraught parents where their missing children are.

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The Dwarves of Auschwitz

How the Ovitzs, a family of Jewish dwarves from Transylvania, survived Auschwitz.

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My Father, the Smoker

On growing up with a self-destructive parent.

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Portrait of the Artist on Crystal Meth

Is Bryan Saunders a drug-inspired outsider genius, or just in need of intervention?

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Time, and the Great Healer

In 1943, a young research scientist found a cure for TB. It should have been the proudest moment of Albert Schatz’s life, but ever since he has watched, helpless, as his mentor got all the credit.

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The Long Qt

The winner of the 2012 Man Booker Prize explores the disastrous, unexpected consequences of an unfaithful moment. Via John French.

"He knew Jody was rattling about the house. He knew—and he acknowledged this later—that she might at any moment blunder in. She did not like parties that involved open doors, and guests passing between the house and the garden. Strangers might come in, and wasps."

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When The New Wing Broke Away From The Old Mansion

A metaphorical tale of a wayward younger brother and his icy relationship with his siblings.

"The fifth brother, Joseph, was much younger. By the time he came of age, there were no comfortable rooms left for him, and so he was given the raw rooms in the mansion's newer wing. Joseph was a strange, solitary, somewhat frightening child, and although his brothers loved him, they were relieved to have him out of their hair. Joseph wished to be a gentleman like his brothers, but life was difficult in the raw wing of the mansion. The new wing was a place of Protestant industry, and Joseph went to work."

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The Trouble With My Blood

Diagnosed with a rare blood disease, the author reflects on illness and addiction.

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Covehithe

A father and his daughter observe the emergence of mysterious, animal-like oil rigs.

"Only the most violent post-return decommissioning could stop all this, only second deaths, from which the rigs did not come back again, kept them from where they wished to go, to drill. Once chosen, a place might be visited by any one of the wild rigs that walked out of the abyss. As if such locations had been decided collectively. UNPERU observed the nesting sites, more all the time, and kept track of the rigs themselves as best they could, of their behemoth grazing or wandering at the bottom of the world."

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Gideon

Scenes of a crumbling relationship between a black woman and a Jewish man.

"You know what I mean? I was nineteen and crazy back then. I'd met this Jewish guy with this really Jewish name: Gideon. He had hair like an Afro wig and a nervous smile that kept unfolding quickly, like origami. He was one of those white guys who had a thing for black women, but he'd apparently been too afraid to ask out anyone, until he met me."

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My Life as a Bibliophile

On collecting books.

I have lived in books, for books, by and with books; in recent years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to live from books. And it was through books that I first realised there were other worlds beyond my own; first imagined what it might be like to be another person; first encountered that deeply intimate bond made when a writer's voice gets inside a reader's head.

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Everest, the Grandaddy of Walking Adventures

Eco-tourism in the Himalayas.

The valley is everything you'd want and more. An icy milky river thunders over rocks and below steep wooded slopes are lush fields where people are working the land, oblivious to the Gore-Tex procession. Oblivious but not unaffected: the houses are smart, the prayer wheels freshly painted, just about everyone has a mobile phone, it seems, and is on it, and there are very few places you can't get a signal around here. This is not really the place to come if you're looking for peace and quiet.

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The Penge Mystery: the murder of Harriet Staunton

On a Victorian-era murder case, and the novel it inspired.

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How One Man Escaped From a North Korean Prison Camp

There was torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but to Shin In Geun, Camp 14—a prison for the political enemies of North Korea—was home. Then one day came the chance to flee.

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Desperately Seeking Kraftwerk

Searching for the reclusive band’s studio in Düsseldorf.

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Cable: A Caucasus Wedding

The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance.

In a cable brought to light by Wikileaks, the Ambassador to Russia describes a raucous three-day Dagestani wedding attended by Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov.

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How I Killed My Mother

Exploring the relationship between authors and their parents.

It mattered to her that she could have, or might have, been a writer, and perhaps it mattered to me more than I fully understood. She watched my books appear with considerable interest, and wrote me an oddly formal letter about the style of each one, but she was, I knew, also uneasy about my novels. She found them too slow and sad and oddly personal. She was careful not to say too much about this, except once when she felt that I had described her and things which had happened to her too obviously and too openly. That time she said that she might indeed soon write her own book. She made a book sound like a weapon.

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Muggins Here

A comical look at the lives of grocery store employees, from the author of Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet.

" "What about the glacé cherries?" I tell her they're in Home Baking and she asks, "Where's that?" so I have to take her back. My knees are hurting. Passing through Meat and Poultry these beanpole girls with pierces and tattoos ask me, "Do you know the difference between a 'free-range chicken' and 'farm-fresh'?" For a second I'm too miserable to even say "No.""

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The first sexual revolution: lust and liberty in the 18th century

A history.

 The explosion of publishing created a much more democratic and permanent network of public communication than had ever existed before. The mass proliferation of newspapers and magazines, and a new-found fascination with the boundaries of the private and the public, combined to produce the first age of sexual celebrity.

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Trespassing

A woman's investigations of closed-off places become quiet expressions of nationalistic outrage.

"She went through a summer or two of exploring empty listed buildings. The English countryside was full of them, just standing there, vast, abandoned, too big to develop but architecturally and historically too important to destroy. "

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The Shot That Nearly Killed Me

War photographers tell the stories behind their most harrowing images.

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Lost at Sea

An investigation into the disappearance of a 24-year-old British cruise ship activity director from the Disney Wonder opens the strange and insular world of cruise employees, who vanish mysteriously at alarming rates.

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Excuse Me, Weren't You in the Fall?

Tracking down 40-odd members of the British band.

It's a Tuesday morning in December, and I'm ringing people called Brown in Rotherham. "Hello," I begin again. "I'm trying to trace Jonnie Brown who used to play in the Fall. He came from Rotherham and I wondered if you might be a relative." "The Who?" asks the latest Mr Brown. "No. The Fall - the band from Salford. He played bass for three weeks in 1978." "Is this some kind of joke?"

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How could this young woman lie dead and undiscovered for almost three years?

The body of a 38-year-old woman lay on her couch with the TV continuously running BBC for three years. Who was she, and why did it take three years for her to be discovered?

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My obsession with a New York cup of coffee and a doughnut

When a writer’s daily routine gets out of control.

One morning, as I gobbled my doughnut and slurped my coffee, thinking to myself, "What a fantastic doughnut, what an amazing coffee," I realised that I had not just thought this but was actually saying aloud, "What a fantastic doughnut! What a totally fantastic experience!", and that this was attracting the attention of the other customers, one of whom turned to me and said, "You like the doughnuts, huh?"

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The Genius Who Lives Downstairs

Excerpted from the author’s biography of mathematician Simon Phillips Norton.

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America's 'Detainee 001'

John Walker Lindh’s father on why his son is an innocent victim of the War on Terror.

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How Corporate Branding Has Taken Over America

What happened when the U.S. Military decided to take its lead from America’s biggest brands.

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Envy

She is an unknown struggling writer. Her boyfriend is Jonathan Franzen.

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Death in the Snow

In 2001, a young Japanese woman walked into the North Dakota woods and froze to death. Had she come in search of the $1 million dollars buried nearby in the film Fargo?

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The Confessions of 'Curveball'

How an Iraqi expat conned the United States, without ever once being interviewed by an American official, into making the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. “Believe me, there was no other way to bring about freedom to Iraq.”

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The Extraordinary Life and Death of David Burgess

A famed attorney begins a transformation away from being a man; and dies after a companion shoves her under an oncoming train.

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The Last Resort

Unruly teens from around the world are kidnapped by parental order and sent to ‘behaviour-modification centers’ like Tranquility Bay, a $40,000/year prison-like compound in Jamaica.

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Interview: Danny Boyle

The director of Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours on his aversion to America, the advantages of small budgets, and the challenges of directing the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

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Ray Gosling: “I Just Said It”

Why did a veteran BBC on-air personality confess on camera to a mercy killing he did not commit?

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In the City of Death

In Torreón, north of Mexico City, cartel gunmen are freed from a prison, commit a massacre at a wedding that includes the band, and then return to custody.

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Journeys Into History

Inside Rebecca West’s vast Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, an eerily timeless travelogue of the Balkans written on the eve of WWI.

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“Paywall Will Underperform”

An interview with Clay Shirky on “why no medium has ever survived the indifference of 25-year-olds.”

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Recovering from a Brain Injury

A first-person account. “If you’re the sort of person who has only ever had to deal with colds and cuts, food poisoning and the odd virus…what strikes you most is the glacial pace of recuperation.”

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Shades of Greene

Zadie Smith on Graham Greene, the master of “ethical ambivalence.”

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The Pill That Could Cure Alcoholism

How an alcoholic doctor simultaneously saved his own life and made what could be the medical breakthrough of the century.

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California Schemin’

How did a pair of young rappers from Scotland, laughed off the stage for their accents, land a deal with Sony and start partying with Madonna? They pretended to be American.

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We’re Lucky We Weren’t Wiped Out

The volcanic ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull has caused travel chaos and misery. But we were lucky. An eruption in the future could wipe out the human race.

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Video games: the addiction

Tom Bissell was an acclaimed young writer when he started playing Grand Theft Auto. For the last three years he has been sleep deprived, cocaine fueled, and barely able to write a word—and he has no regrets.