Michael Paterniti, a correspondent for GQ, has also written for Esquire, Rolling Stone and Outside. His latest book is The Telling Room.

"I want to see it, whatever it is. If it's war, if it's suffering, if it's complete, unbridled elation, I just want to see what that looks like—I want to smell it, I want to taste it, I want to think about it, I want to be caught up in it."

Thanks to this week's sponsors: TinyLetter and Hari Kunzru's Twice Upon a Time, the new title from and Atavist Books.

Leslie Jamison has written for The Believer, Harper's and The New York Times. Her latest book is The Empathy Exams.

"I sort of love imagining a small army of 22-year-old men who are just like, 'Fuck that book, I wish it was never published.'"

Thanks to TinyLetter and Harry's for sponsoring this week's episode.

Michael Lewis has written for The New Republic, Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine. His latest book is Flash Boys.

“When you're telling a story, you're essentially playing the cards you're dealt. ... Sometimes the hand is very easy to play. Sometimes the hand is difficult to play. At the end, I just try to think, ‘Is there anything I would have done differently?‘ ‘Is there any trick I missed?’ If I don't have the feeling that I missed something big, I feel happy about the book.”

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Susan Dominus is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine.

"A lot of reporting is really just hanging around and not going home until something interesting happens."

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Alice Gregory has written for GQ, The New York Times, n+1 and Harper's.

"If you don't have a real story with a beginning, middle and an end, you owe it to the reader to kind of serve as their chaperone."

Thanks to TinyLetter and EA SPORTS FIFA WORLD CUP for sponsoring this week's episode.

Sam Biddle writes for Valleywag.

"It's a lot of overgrown, entitled manchildren pulling price tags out of the ether and passing them around. Considering Silicon Valley worthy of contempt is the first premise that we work from."

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Amanda Hess, a staff writer at Slate, has also written for Pacific Standard, GOOD, and ESPN the Magazine.

"I ended up not loving the fact that I was getting a bunch of calls from MSNBC and CNN, who mostly wanted to talk about people threatening to rape and kill me and only a tiny bit about the story I'd written. ... It was tiring, and it seemed dismissive of me as a person. It's a strange thing to become somebody else's story, especially when the story is: You're a victim of an insane online harasser. That's who you are."

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Mattathias Schwartz has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Harper's.

"I figure it's like digging through a wall with a spoon: if you spend enough time at it eventually you get to the other side."

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Tavi Gevinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of Rookie.

"I just want our readers to know that they are already smart enough and cool enough."

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Sabrina Rubin Erdely, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, has also written for GQ, Philadelphia and SELF.

"I think that people are, by their nature, good and want to act rightly. So I'm very interested in why people do these things that result in really bad actions. My lack of outrage actually is one of the things that probably helps me in my reporting because I really am propelled by this pure curiosity. ... I just want to know, 'Where did that come from?'"

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Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower and Going Clear, is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

"If I had the chance to interview Osama Bin Laden, should I kill him? It’s a fair question. Suppose we’re having dinner — should I stab him with the bread knife? Do I have a moral obligation to kill him? Or do I have a moral obligation as a reporter to simply hear him?"

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Pamela Colloff is an executive editor and staff writer at Texas Monthly.

"That sense of loss, that sense of normal life turning on a dime is something that, in a very different way, I’ve experienced. And I carry that with me into some of the more difficult stories."

Smiley face Mimi Swartz has written for Talk, The New Yorker and Vogue. She is an executive editor at Texas Monthly.

"Here’s this great [public interest] story that nobody’s ever told. Now how can I write it so the maximum number of people want to read it? I try to make the homework part as interesting and compelling as possible."

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Jennifer Senior is a contributing editor at New York and the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood.

"I've had moments in motherhood that have been close to something like religious. But I don't think social scientists say things like, "How many numinous moments have you had?" They don't do that, so you have to figure out what to do. I was suddenly turning to other texts to try and explain all of this."

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Kevin Roose, a writer at New York, has contributed to The New York Times, GQ and Esquire. His latest book is Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street's Post-Crash Recruits.

"Google will give you away. I feel like one undercover book is all you get these days before the jig is up. ... Unless, like Barbara Ehrenreich, you legally change your name. I was not quite prepared to go that far."

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Wil S. Hylton, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, is the author of Vanished.

"I despise the fucking nut graf. I think it's a joke, a cop out. The story probably should be about something larger than itself but if you have to tell people what that is, you've failed from the beginning. If they can't find it, you didn't put it there and you shouldn't be beating them over the head with it."

Thanks to TinyLetter and The Fog Horn for sponsoring this week's episode, and to the Writing Department at the University of Pittsburgh for hosting.

David Kushner, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired and The Atavist.

"The minute you see an incredible character, you know. The only thing I can compare it to is bowling, not that I'm much of a bowler. On the few times I've thrown a strike, you know it before it hits the pins."

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Ariel Levy is a staff writer at The New Yorker.

"I like an older awesome lady, I don't think enough is written about older awesome ladies and I don't think there are enough role models for younger awesome ladies. It’s great fun hanging out with an older awesome lady. It’s inspiring. And it makes you think 'Jesus, I might be rocking it when I’m 80!'"

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Dan P. Lee is a contributing writer at New York.

"I don't believe in answers. That's what compels me to write all of these stories. None of them ends nicely, none of them ends neatly."

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Roger D. Hodge is the editor of Oxford American.

"My career isn't all that interesting insofar as I've been an editor. I'm much more interested in talking about writers and stories. That's the main thing: telling these stories, creating this platform, this context for the best possible storytelling."

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George Saunders has written for The New Yorker and GQ. His latest collection of short stories is Tenth of December.

“Maybe you would understand your artistry to be: put me anywhere. I'll find human beings, I'll find human interest, I'll find literature. And I guess you could argue the weirder, or maybe the less explored the place, the better.”

Thanks to TinyLetter and Audible for sponsoring this week's episode. For a free audiobook of your choice, go to audiblepodcast.com/longform.

Jon Mooallem, a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, is the author of Wild Ones and American Hippopotamus, the latest story from The Atavist.

"I'm terrible at writing nut graphs. I never know why people should keep reading. That's the menace of my professional existence, trying to figure that out. Because often you have to explain that to an editor before you even start, and I may not even know while I'm writing what the bigger point is."

Thanks to TinyLetter for sponsoring this week's episode.

Joe Sexton is a senior editor at ProPublica and a former reporter and editor at the New York Times, where he led the team that produced "Snow Fall."</p>

"My experience in a newspaper newsroom over the years has been: The word you hear least often, the word that's hardest for people to say in that environment, is the word yes. It's safer to say no. You get second-guessed less often if you say no. Your job's not on the line if you say no. But if you're willing to say yes and you're willing to face the consequences of having said yes, then quite amazing things can happen."

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Andrew Leland is an editor at The Believer and hosts The Organist

"I think a good editor has a strong stomach for crazy assholes. Because often crazy assholes are really brilliant great writers."

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Jason Fagone, a contributing editor at Wired and a writer-at-large for Philadelphia, is the author of Ingenious.

"It seemed like all the big guys in American society had let us down, all the elites. And here was a contest that was explicitly looking to the little guy and saying, 'We don't care what you've done before or how much money you have in your pocket. If you solve this problem, you win the money.' There was something so optimistic and hopeful and cool about that to me."

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Amy Wallace is an editor-at-large for Los Angeles and a correspondent for GQ .

"I've written about the anti-vaccine movement. I love true crime. I've written a lot of murder stories. The thing that unites all of them—whether it's a celebrity profile or a biologist who murdered a bunch of people or Justin Timberlake—it's almost trite to say, but there's a humanity to each of these people. And figuring out what's making them tick in the moment, or in general, is interesting to me. In a way, that's my sweet spot."

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