Monday, September 02, 2013

Excellent GQ pieces - by Laskas, Johnson & Paterniti

While there's a few excellent pieces from the latest GQ that I'll write on and link to later once they're online, past issues of the magazine had some great features I haven't previously posted on.

The July edition included two with "Have You Heard the One About President Joe Biden?" by Jeanne Marie Laskas and "Dear Leader Dreams of Sushi" by Adam Johnson. The feature on Biden is really well done by Laskas and portrays the politician as just incredibly human, someone who has endured tragedy and seems to be a very likable and empathic person. The Johnson piece is also well-written to be sure, but also nutty in terms of it's subject. Profiled (with the alias Kenji Fujimoto) is the former sushi chef and party companion to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il and while the chef written about doesn't come across as someone to have sympathy for, his story, and that of North Korea and it's leader, is a fascinating one.

Another superb piece from GQ I've read recently was the Michael Paterniti feature "XXXL" published in March 2005. It was about Leonid Stadnyk, an 8 foot 5 inch man in the Ukraine and like some other great Paterniti writing I've seen and written about, it blended together tremendous storytelling with insight into Paterniti himself.

I came across "XXXXL" around the time that Paterniti's book The Telling Room was recently published and shortly after reading the story, I found (via the same Jeanne Marie Laskas) the webpage "Michael Paterniti's Best GQ Long Reads" that included links to ten Paterniti stories for GQ. They range from 2003 to 2013 and the only ones of the ten I've read before are the piece on Stadnyk (who is still alive and recently the subject of a short NBC News segment) and the two most recent features.