Susanne Long was my sister, three years younger. She was funny and savvy. She was creative and kind and curious. She had a master’s degree, and she taught English as a second language in Washington, D.C., and later in Seattle. She spent two tours of duty in the Peace Corps, one in Liberia, the other in Morocco. She baked, cooked, knitted, quilted, played recorder. She took photographs. She loved to learn languages, and she loved to garden. She trained as a marathon runner. She was happily married, then unhappily married, then divorced. She was a great beauty, with high cheekbones and a Queen Nefertiti nose. She loved to hang out with her friends.
At the age of 32, never before, schizophrenia came to call. She began to hear nasty phrases hissed at her: We’re going to get you, etc. We may call them voices, but to her they were sentences spoken from the mouths of colleagues and passersby.
Over the next near-decade her delusional states increased from sporadic to chronic. On July 21, 1986, at the age of 40, she vanished.
Priscilla Long’s essay, What Killed My Sister, was published in our spring issue. (Photo of Susanne Long in the early 1960s by John H. Rareshide)
Our editor reviews Adam Begley’s new biography of John Updike, pictured here in 1964 (Photo by Irving Fisk)
Remembering the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox”
What’s the best sentence ever written? We’ve compiled 10 of our favorites, and our readers have suggested quotes by everyone from Tolstoy to J.K. Rowling. Listen to us on NPR and tell us your favorite sentence.
We need a euphemism for “eating heart-hostile food.” Also, how to put it politely when you move back in with your parents? Enter our word contest featured every issue in Back Talk.
Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel, Dawn Powell’s The Locusts Have No King, and more recommendations from a tried-and-true list from book critic Michael Dirda
Are any words precise? Jessica Love thinks not.
Our science columnist, Josie Glausiusz, explains why the Copenhagen Zoo killed a two-year-old giraffe and fed its body to the lions.
From our spring issue’s cover story by James McWilliams: “Nobody is envisioning the immediate liberation of farm animals. We will never realistically face a scenario in which the billions of animals we now kill for food roam the landscape in search of sanctuary. But what we can envision—and what the Food Movement should envision—is a radical shift in agricultural practice initiated by a radical shift in what enlightened consumers agree not to eat.”
Happy birthday, John Steinbeck.