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Friday, April 16, 2021

Out Of Thin Air: The Mystery Of The Man Who Fell From The Sky, by Sirin Kale, The Guardian

In his three-decade career as a police officer, Graves had worked on stabbings, shootings, kidnappings and attempted murders. These were exacting cases, and he was well used to media scrutiny, family and friends demanding answers, and witnesses who were reluctant to cooperate. As an experienced senior detective, Graves hoped to identify the fallen man and repatriate his body, but he wasn’t exactly optimistic. “You’d struggle to find anyone who’s optimistic in the police,” he chuckled.

When the call came in at 3.39pm, officers sped to Offerton Road, where they spoke to Wil, John and the neighbours. Police contacted Heathrow, which dispatched staff to examine the Kenya Airways plane’s wheel wells, the unpressurised area into which the plane’s landing gear retracts after takeoff. In the wheel wells, there is just about enough space for a person to crouch and evade detection. Inside, staff found a grubby khaki rucksack with the initials MCA written on it.

What Octopus Dreams Tell Us About The Evolution Of Sleep, by Sara Harrison, Wired

Fruit flies, octopuses, birds, and humans don’t seem to have much in common. Some live on land, others are aquatic. Some fly, while others are earthbound. Some are vertebrates, others lack backbones. These creatures evolved separately and their common ancestors are far, far back in the evolutionary chain. But they may share one fundamental feature: They dream.

Dictionary Of Lost Words By Pip Williams Review – A Gentle, Hopeful Story, by Helen Sullivan, The Guardian

In 1901, a concerned member of the public wrote to the men compiling the first Oxford English Dictionary to let them know that there was a word missing. In 1857 the Unregistered Words Committee of the Philological Society of London had decided that Britain needed a successor to Samuel Johnson’s 1755 dictionary. It had taken 40 years for the first volume – the letters A and B – to be published, and now they had only gone and left out a word.

The word was “bondmaid”, and when Australian author Pip Williams learned of its exclusion, she knew she had the makings of a novel. The Dictionary of Lost Words tells the story of the OED’s compilation through the fictional Esme, daughter of one of the men working on it, and her interactions with characters based on the real men and women behind the book.

The Unique Dialogue Between Present And Past In “Low Country”, by Anita Gill, Chicago Review of Books

Jones provides a brilliant look into the cracks of a family, channeling the folktales and sayings from her ancestors, and bringing them to the page. She says it beautifully here: “Every generation gets a little better, leaves a stitch or two behind to close the open family wounds a little at a time.” The trauma passed down through Jones’ line is fraught, but her storytelling conveys compassion to the characters that helped shape her life.

The City Of Underachievers, by Geoffrey Nutter, Granta

Far North,
in the landlocked town of Norilsk, trucks
are taking loads of nickel from the mine
to the refinery on unthawed roads at dawn –

Impossible Friendships, by Adam Zagajewski, Translated by Clare Cavanagh, New York Times

For example, with someone who no longer is,
who exists only in yellowed letters.