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The writer, entering her thirties single and adrift, heads to San Francisco to spend time with Kink.com’s Princess Donna Dolore and attend a gangbang “where all the men were dressed as panda bears.”

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The fight for South Africa’s future.

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A 16-year-old runner, her coach and the lasting memory of an improbable race.

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William Sparkman Jr., a census worker, was found hanging from a tree in rural Kentucky. He was naked, hands bound, with the letters “FED” written across his chest. Inside the investigation into how – and why – he died.

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A profile of Michael Huffington.

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How Curtis Duffy overcame his parents’ murder-suicide to become one of the nation’s great chefs.

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In 2003, a platoon of American soldiers opened fire on a family in a Baghdad intersection. A decade later, one of the shooters tracks down the survivors.

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Thirteen forms of rain, each apocalyptic in their own way.

"The glass came first in early morning. I watched through the only safe storm window. It sounded as if the sky itself was ripping—like some sick sour music box, cranked to cracking. The shards shattered on impact, each giving off a second spray. "

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Charles Morton Luger unexpectedly becomes Jewish.

"When they sat down to dinner, Charles stared at his plate. Half an hour Jewish and already he felt obliged. He knew there were dietary laws, milk and meat forbidden to touch, but he didn't know if chicken was considered meat and didn't dare ask Sue and chance a confrontation -- not until he'd formulated a plan."


In three parts: 1 | 2 | 3

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Former U.S. Presidents are reincarnated as horses.

"Martin Van Buren is barn sour, but even he shouts out impossible promises at the turkeys from the dim interior of his stall: 'You are my constituents, my turkeys,' Van Buren neighs, 'and the love I feel for you is forever.' The turkeys promenade around the yard and ignore him. Rutherford wonders if they, too, have human biographies hidden beneath their black feathers."

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Two waiters, an old man, and despair.

"'I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe,' the older waiter said. 'With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night.'"

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From the author of Winter's Bone: A Vietnam War veteran grapples with the aftermath of killing a home intruder.

" A year after his return Pelham ceased to mention Vietnam to new acquaintances, dropped it from the biography of himself he’d give if asked. Only those who knew him before he went were certain that he’d gone. Jill was a second wife, fifteen years his junior, a lovely, patient blond, and remembered Vietnam as a tiresome old television show that’d finally been canceled about the time she left third grade. "

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Bets are placed on the developments and historical events of the future universe.

"I got much more satisfaction, however, from the bets we had to bear in mind for billions and billions of years, without forgetting what we had bet on, and remembering the shorter-term bets at the same time, and the number (the era of whole numbers had begun, and this complicated matters a bit) of bets each of us had won, the sum of the stakes (my advantage kept growing; the Dean was up to his ears in debt). And in addition to all this I had to dream up new bets, further and further ahead in the chain of my deductions."

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Envy and failure in the 1970s literary scene.

"There is a kind of minor writer who is found in a room of the library signing his novel. His index finger is the color of tea, his smile filled with bad teeth. He knows literature, however. His sad bones are made of it."

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Raymond Carver's stories have a knack for illuminating uncomfortable marriage scenes, and this tale of a man wanting his wife to lose weight is as well-written as it is saddening.

"He pulled the covers up, closed his eyes, and allowed himself to think about the incident. The humiliation started in his face, the forehead and cheeks, and worked down into his shoulders and on into his stomach and legs."

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A beautifully detailed look at friendships, painful family memories, and potential unspoken desires.

"There was a man there named Josh who didn’t want nearly enough from me, and a woman called Thea who wanted way too much, and I was sandwiched between them, one of those weaker rock layers like limestone that disappears under pressure or turns into something shapeless like oil."

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Life without reflection.

"She does her hair in the morning in much the same way her husband shaves: by feel, brushing it out, patting it into shape, fixing it with pins. She's been putting on earrings for forty years, and certainly doesn't require a mirror for that."