In a world where you have more options for satisfying longform reading than ever, your friends here at Flavorwire are taking the time once a week to highlight some of the best that journalism and longform has to offer. Whether they’re unified by topic, publication, writer, being classic pieces of work, or just by a general feeling, these articles all have one thing in common: they’re essential reading. This week, we’re featuring wonderful work from Guernica: A Magazine of Art of Politics, the formidable online publication that’s celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.
For their 10th anniversary, Guernica is partying, with November’s New York City Gala featuring Mallory Ortberg from The Toast, and taking a step into print, with the first issue of The Guernica Annual, a collaboration with Haymarket Books, available in stores November 18th and online next week. With an introduction by poet and memoirist Nick Flynn (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City), it’s a stellar collection of the best of Guernica, with voices from the fringes, important, probing Q&As, and overall, nonfiction writing that shows us who we really are today. The following articles are some of the Guernica editors’ favorite pieces from the site.
“The Trouble With Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature,” by William Cronon, Guernica, May 2005
Where Cronon makes the argument that what we see as wilderness and wildness may just be, at its roots, a cultural invention from humans. He proposes a radical rethought regarding how to approach wilderness, and how we made it loaded with privilege and signifiers.
“Detroitism,” by John Patrick Leary, Guernica, January 2011
Leary delves into the world of “ruin porn,” and how at the average Detroit bookstore, people are walking in, looking for photos of abandoned buildings. Yet he asks the question: are the photos showing us anything else besides ruin and failure?
“Forgotten But Not Gone,” by Eric Benson, Guernica, July 2011
Benson explores Jorges Luis Borges’ life in Texas, looking for hints of the fabulist. He interviews people and goes to the Harry Ransom Center, and yet Borges still remains elusive — perhaps the greatest trick of all.
“Reporting Poverty: Interview With Katharine Boo,” by Emily Brennan, Guernica, September 2012
Katharine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a masterpiece of contemporary reporting. In this in-depth Q&A, we hear about how Boo embedded herself in India’s slums and what kind of stories emerged from her work.
“The Animal Gaze,” by Mary Costello, Guernica, June 2013
The erotic charge of James Salter’s literary work, especially in the short story “My Lord You,” where an encounter with a dog leads to a sensual obsession. While Salter is one of our great writers about sex, he’s also one of our great writers about “metaphysical transformation,” in Costello’s words.