We just returned from a long vacation in the Catskill Mountains, where we went on long runs, long hikes, and spent long amounts of time in the hot tub. I thought maybe going in to the trip—mistakenly—that I could sneak in a long book, too. After debating between Martin Seay's The Mirror Thief (which I'm really excited to check out) and Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries, I went with the latter. I didn't finish.
In addition to the gazillion submissions I read, I did manage to get through Sophie Calle's The Address Book, Marianne Fritz's The Weight of Things, Sarah Gerard's BFF, Yuri Herrera's Signs Preceding the End of the World, and am nearly done with Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth. They are each distinctive, compelling, and excellent. I'd recommend every single one.
During the long car ride, we plowed through Undisclosed: Season Two and Embedded, of which I would highly recommend the episode 'The Capital,' which follows a day in San Salvador when extreme gang violence literally shuts down the country. There's also a powerful episode called 'The Hospital,' that takes place in a Medecins Sans Frontieres clinic in South Sudan that had me in tears while stuck in construction traffic in Pennsylvania.
After getting home, I stayed up late reading a long piece by Michelle Dean at BuzzFeed about Dee Dee Blancharde and her daughter, Gypsy. It is absolutely riveting, chronicling Dee Dee's relationship with Gypsy, who is now imprisoned for her mother's murder. Dee Dee presented Gypsy throughout her childhood—who by all counts was healthy the entire time—as suffering from muscular dystrophy, cancer, and a laundry list of other diseases, while telling friends that Gypsy was slow and had the mental capacity of a much younger girl. While they were accepting housing from Habitat for Humanity, and gifts from the Make-a-Wish foundation to Disney World, the charity only seems to be one part of the act, as the article goes to great lengths to reveal. It is a fascinating character study that I imagine will only go deeper as the author develops the material for a book-length work.