The Sunday Long Read (with Jeff Maysh), 8/8/21

Good Sunday morning!

A quick housekeeping note: There will be no SLR next Sunday. We’ll return on Sunday, August 22nd.

We’re thrilled to have Jeff Maysh guest edit this week. Jeff is a writer based in Southern California. In April, he made his debut for The New Yorker with “The Strange Story of Dagobert: The DuckTales Bandit.” He is best known for his 2018 Daily Beast article about the McDonald’s Monopoly Scam.

In July I went on a reporting trip for the first time in 17 months. (You may have heard about that cough that’s been going around.) I flew to a distant state and drove a rental car across parts of the country I’d never seen before. Places where they’d never heard a British accent like mine, except on TV. I ate country-fried steak and drank iced tea with strangers. I’d forgotten how much I love the road.

I quit being a full-time freelancer in 2013. The truth is I couldn’t make it work. At my lowest point I was taking side-gigs as a mystery shopper on the TaskRabbit app, snapping photos of toothbrushes in Bed Bath & Beyond. Instead, I took a nine-to-five job in another industry. I promised myself I’d spend my free time trying to write more ambitious stories, while enjoying the stability of regular work. Every year I get a whole week off to celebrate the fourth of July. In 2019 I took the opportunity to fly to Manila to report a long story. This year it was country-fried steak.

It’s not easy juggling reporting with all-hands meetings and a one-year-old baby. But I know it’s even harder to be a freelancer now, for a thousand reasons. Earlier this year I decided I wanted to help up-and-coming writers from underrepresented communities, and The Sunday Long Read made that possible by commissioning two original stories. The pitches were incredible, and the first of those stories is my pick of the week.

The rest are other stories I couldn’t put down. Click here to read them.