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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Michael Freeman

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour this Sunday.

1. A drug that wakes the near-dead
Jeneen Interlandi on the struggle to awaken people from comas, and the surprising effects of a sleeping pill (New York Times).

The drug did not work for everyone, and even when it did, its effects typically wore off after an hour or two. But for a lucky few, those effects were profound. People who seemed vegetative for years were waking up.

2. Reclaiming empty homes for the 99 per cent
Josh Harkinson goes along with a ‘squat team’ liberating vacant housing for those in need (Mother Jones).

After three guys in work clothes showed up with brooms and a shovel, we headed through graffiti-sprayed streets to the building. Everyone would need to be as discreet as possible; a neighboring unit was still occupied by a legal tenant. “The idea is to go in very quickly and confidently, like we are supposed to be there,” Paul tells the group

3. Why are we obsessed with the end of the world?
Tom Holland on our persistent belief that the world will end – and what happened when it first took hold, in 1,000AD (Lapham’s Quarterly).

I was twelve when it first dawned on me that humanity might have no future. It was 1980. The Soviets were in Afghanistan and hourly expected in Poland; Ronald Reagan was on his way to the White House, and Checkpoint Charlie was still in Berlin.

4. The killing of an eight-year-old boy
Matthew Shaer on what happened in a close-knit New York Jewish community after schoolboy Leiby Kletzky was found dead (New York Magazine).

Aron—now covered with scratches and scrapes—grew frenzied anew. “I didn’t know what to do with the body,” he wrote. After about fifteen minutes, he carried Leiby’s remains into the front room and placed them on a mattress. Using a kitchen knife, he cut off one leg at the hip.

5. How not to die in an air crash
Avi Steinberg on the unique art of the aeroplane safety card, and what it says about us (Paris Review).

As everyone knows, the story contained in this pamphlet has little to do with anything resembling the truth. If shit goes down, if that horrifying alarm is sounded, will your fellow passengers really calmly place oxygen masks over their faces? Will that crazy lady sitting next to you inflate her life jacket in a quiet and orderly fashion?

6. Seeing Palestine for the first time
Palestinian author Mourid Barghouti describes taking his son across the border for his first sight of their homeland (Guernica).

We are at the lowest point below sea level on the planet. Sweat oozes with sticky insistence. Clothes stick annoyingly to bodies. The air here is fried. Daytime in this black hole is a collective curse on all those like us who have to wait, as though the entrance to Palestine were through Hell.

… AND A CLASSIC READ FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In September 2002, Sonia Nazario wrote about a 17-year-old boy from Honduras who set out to find his mother in the USA, for the LA Times.

A policeman discovered a 9-year-old boy four years ago near the downtown Los Angeles tracks. “I’m looking for my mother,” he said. The youngster had left Puerto Cortes in Honduras three months before, guided only by his cunning and the single thing he knew about her: where she lived. He asked everyone: “How do I get to San Francisco?”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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Michael Freeman

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