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The Believer’s Best of the Decade: Part I

Throughout the month, before we don our 2020 novelty glasses and ring in the new year, we’re looking back at some of our top pieces of the decade. Cheers to a great ten years, and here’s to many more.

Essay

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah

Searching for Dave Chappelle ten years after he left his own show.

“Like Salinger’s retreat from fame, Chappelle’s departure demanded an explanation: how could any human being have the willpower, the chutzpah, the determination to refuse the amount of money rumored to be Chappelle’s next paycheck: fifty million dollars. Say it with me now. Fifty. Million. Dollars.”

 

Essay

The End of Evil

Sarah Marshall

America’s most famous serial killer and the myth of the psychopath.

“Ted Bundy is the textbook psychopath who shows us how to recognize the evil in our midst. His story is the story we all know. And yet the longer you listen to it—and listen not just to the legend, but to the people who knew Ted Bundy, and even to the man himself—the more you will find yourself hearing the story of a man who was not a mastermind, was not a genius, and who seems to have understood as little about what motivated him as the people around him did. ”

 

Essay

Vampires and Vaccines

Eula Biss

Giving (and losing) blood in the age of fear.

“The vampire was a metaphor, though it is hard to say whether it was a metaphor for my baby or for myself. My baby slept by day and woke at night to feed from me, sometimes drawing blood with his toothless jaws. He grew more vigorous each day, even as I remained weak and pale. But I was living off blood that was not mine.”

 

Conversation

Paul Beatty and Viet Thanh Nguyen

Beatty, the author of the Man Booker Prize-winning The Sellout and Nguyen, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer, discuss hate mail, discomfort, and the experiments that work.

Nguyen: “Literature is sacred for me; it has to be for me to have devoted thirty years of my life to it. But literature isn’t something for reverence. It’s to point out people’s hypocrisy too.”

 

Essay

So There’s This Man

T Cooper

What is it like for people to insist that you’re something you’re not?

“I’m not quite one of those ‘born in the wrong body’ types you see on Oprah or TLC. I actually think I was born in the right body, my body. It’s just a little different, and doesn’t fit squarely into the gender binary.”

 

Interview

Maira Kalman

Nell Boeschenstein

The author and illustrator spoke to The Believer about grief and fairy tales following the publication of her second graphic memoir, And the Pursuit of Happiness.

“If an adult children’s book means that there are paintings and writing and there are digressions and eccentricities, then that’s what I do.”


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