Dublin: -2 °C Friday 1 December, 2023
Florin Gorgan via Flickr

Sitdown Sunday 7 deadly reads

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

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. The Biggest Mall In The World
Robert Sullivan on a long-abandoned construction project in the Jersey swamps, now being reanimated – and called American Dream (New York Magazine).

He waxes enthusiastic about the Jersey-centered panorama. “These investment bankers working late hours, looking out on the Meadowlands, they’re going to long to go to New Jersey,” he says. “You’re going to see children tugging at their parents—this is where we want to go!

2. The men paid to infiltrate Islam
Trevor Aaronson on how the FBI are planting informants in Muslim communities across the US – but are they creating more crimes than they solve? (Mother Jones)

Craig Monteilh is a convicted felon who made his money ripping off cocaine dealers before becoming an asset for the FBI. A well-muscled 49-year-old with a shaved scalp, Monteilh has been a particularly versatile snitch: He’s pretended to be a white supremacist, a Russian hit man, and a Sicilian drug trafficker.

3. The people who can’t stop eating mud
Daniel Mason on the bizarre story of ‘pica’ – a medical disorder which forces people to eat earth, ice and soil (Lapham’s Quarterly).

There are Internet chat rooms devoted to ice cravings: the crushed ice of particular restaurants or the creamy flakes scraped from freezer walls. On an “exposé” by the Tyra Banks Show, a craver of toilet paper spoke of her desire for the feeling of it “dissolving” in her mouth.

4. How dollar stores became big business
Jack Hitt on the runaway success of the discount store, and the psychologies they use to keep people buying (New York Times).

“You always keep things full,” he said. And always keep the higher part of the shelves engorged with product. “People buy at eye level,” he added. Hamilton advised that products should be hung in vertical strips so that in a walk up the aisle, the eye can distinguish one item from the next.

5. The faker who fought the Nazis

Nora Reinhardt meets Adolfo Kaminsky, who forged passports that saved Jews and resistance agents from the SS (Der Spiegel).

“Oui,” he says, “his death really depressed me. But, sad as it sounds, it wasn’t that rare. We were used to having loved ones disappear and be murdered.” Kaminsky’s own mother was killed by the Nazis when he was just 15, shortly after the Germans marched into Paris.

6. An American drug lord in Acapulco
Vanessa Grigoriadis and Mary Cuddehe on Edgar Valdez’s strange journey from US high-school jock  to Mexican cartel kingpin (Rolling Stone).

Shortly after Barbie declared his independence, the authorities raided his high-rise complex in Acapulco. Alerted by his outer security, Barbie escaped downstairs as the soldiers burst into the apartment. He fled on a motorcycle wearing a backpack full of grenades. “Look at me!” he yelled. “I’m Rambo!”


In February 2010, William Langewiesche wrote about the talents and torments of long-distance killers – snipers – for Vanity Fair.

Then he saw the shepherd—an older man standing calmly in the road with a flock of sheep, despite the uproar of the battle, and the bullets snapping above him. In one hand he held a wooden staff. Crane watched as he stretched his arms out wide. The sheep responded by coming to him, clustering around, and lowering their heads.

Read more: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

Read more: The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore>