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the weekend read

‘Any Life, Examined This Way, Looks Ludicrous’

Every Friday Vulture finds a great story that's a little too long to read on the computer screen. Fiction, long-form narrative journalism, extended blog sagas — any of these could be your Weekend Read. Print it out on the office printer, smuggle it home, and curl up with it after brunch.

You're a literary type, so by the time the National Magazine Awards are announced on Tuesday, May 1, you'll certainly have read most of the honored pieces. Of course you've seen Calvin Trillin's ode to his late wife Alice in The New Yorker or William Langewiesche's shocking tale of civilian abuse in Iraq from Vanity Fair or Vanessa Grigoriadis's profile of Karl Lagerfeld from this very magazine. But what about the obscure little magazines whose out-of-the-blue ASME nominations surprise everyone? We bet you haven't read, for instance, the Georgia Review's nominee in the Essay category, "Russell and Mary" by Michael Donahue.

A quintessential New York story — of a Park Slope tenant whose elderly landlady dies, and who finds himself wrapped up in the collected papers of her Seconal-addicted, porn-obsessed late husband — "Russell and Mary" (PDF) is the equal of any of the big-name essays it's nominated alongside. He may not be Tom Friedman or Paul Theroux or Calvin Trillin, but Donahue can write, and his reflections on mortality, love, and how we are all "at the mercy of whoever survives us" make for a satisfying, thought-provoking Weekend Read.