Good Reads: Mental illness, segregation, and daredevils

This post is part of a series recommending longform, narrative nonfiction (as well as other worthwhile writings).

The Real Story of Germanwings Flight 9525 by Joshua Hammer, GQ

Mental illness and airline pilots. I recently wrote a story about Taylor University’s Ethics Bowl team, and this was one of the ethics bowl cases. You see, if a pilot is honest about his struggles with mental illness, he’s likely to lose his job. But if he’s silent about it and goes untreated, he could go the way of Andreas Günter Lubitz, the young pilot who crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the Alps on March 24, 2015. This piece traces the story of the crash and introduces you to the other individuals impacted by the tragedy.

Mustang Green, Part One: A Season of Hope in a Segregated City by Michael Graff, Charlotte Magazine

The first of a three-part series, this piece introduces the main characters in the real life setting of high school football in a diverse — racially and economically — southern town. I’m a big fan of football movies. I just rewatched We are Marshall, and I practically have Remember the Titans memorized. The best football (and just sport) movies aren’t really about the sport — they’re about the characters. The sport is just a vehicle to get those characters moving. It’s a lot easier to write a story about events than it is to write one about characters and the depth of their emotions and struggles. It’s clear in this first part of the series, though, that the characters are what Graff is focusing on. Part Two builds on Part One.

This Will End Well: Our greatest daredevil stares down middle age by Katherine Laidlow, The Walrus

Will Gladd is an adventurer, a climber, a risk taker. He thrives on challenges, both physical and mental. Now, he’s staring a new one: age. It’s not common for individuals his age to still carry sponsorships up the side of cliffs. But he is. And he’s not planning on stopping anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Swiss alpine panorama I via photopin (license)

Good Reads: The underdog, the addict, and the rescuer

This is the second in a new series of weekly posts recommending well-written narrative nonfiction/longform articles.

This week’s picks:

Ra’Shede’s Road by John Rosengren, SB Nation

Ra’Shede Hageman, senior defensive tackle at the University of Minnesota, has the potential to secure a bright future. But he also has a past and a temper to overcome. Though this piece was published November 13, 2013, I found and read it for the first time this past week. It’s one of those with lines that make you pause and think. Powerful story.

Addict. Informant. Mother. by Susan Dominus, New York Times Magazine

Ann — her middle name — is a heroin addict. She has two kids, her husband is in jail, and the police are trying to motivate her to stay clean by paying her off as an informant. How in the world Susan Dominus got the fine details of this story, I have no idea, but she did a spectacular job. Brings you up close to the addict, shows the complexity of the situation, the seeming hopelessness, while providing the possibility of a better future. Maybe.

Raiding Brothels and Taking Names by Laurie Lico Albanese, Narrative.ly

The story of a Cambodian man who’s taking on the country’s sex trafficking and child labor problems, and using his own story of success to inspire the girls he rescues. The author is also working on a book about Cambodia’s children and human rights activists.

Know a magazine or web site that publishes great narrative nonfiction? Comment and tell me about it.