Best Longform Of The Decade

best longform of the decade


Lost and Found
Meghan McCormick

For years, I tried to fill the hole that lost left in my life—with bitterness, with a search for the woman who killed her, even with alcohol. And then finally. I stopped reaching into the past and found what I was looking for.

B Is For Basketball
Amy Wimmer Schwarb

I am typically a very deliberate writer. Some writers sketch an outline, throw all their words onto paper, then go through several layers of perfecting until everything is in the right spot and hits the right tone. Me? I put together a clumsy nut graf that reminds me what my overall point is. Then, I write the first sentence. And then I rewrite the first sentence. And then I take another stab at it and maybe add a second. And then I perfect them both. And eventually I have an entire first paragraph. And then I move on from there, with the same painstaking caution.

‘B is for Basketball’ was much different for me. It was a fluid story—I knew where to start, where I was going, and how on earth to make the clumsy antics of a game played by 3-year-olds fit within a story about our state’s fervor for basketball; one of its favorite son’s passion for passing it along; my dad’s generation’s relationship with the game; my personal affection for where I’m from; and how my daughter’s emergence as her own person clicked into place with all of that.”

Free Man
Tony Rehagen

“I was drawn to the story of David Scott, because, to me, it’s a look into the true impact of our criminal justice and corrections systems. Do we, as a society, really believe in rehabilitation? Or are we just sending these undesirables away, out of sight, out of mind? If it’s the latter, then what happens when we release them back into the world? To me, the story is summed up in this sentence: ‘David Scott has lived the life of a murderer, and in their eyes, guilty or not, that’s what he is.’”


Long Shot
Craig Fehrman

Milan could be any small Indiana town—except, of course, for its high-school basketball team, which won the state title almost 60 years ago. Now, a few locals are trying to adapt that history into a basketball museum and a bid at reviving their town. But could Milan’s legacy actually be what keeps it from moving forward?

The Blink of an Eye
Tony Rehagen

“I’ve always felt that this story was about two heroes. The first, obviously, is Matt, who has faced ALS not only with bravery, but with humility and even humor that left me awestruck. But the second, more unsung hero, or heroine, is Matt’s wife, Shartrina. In many ways, I think Shartrina is the most courageous. Matt really had no choice—ALS came to him and he dealt with it. Shartrina, on the other hand, did have a choice. She could have left and lived her life free of the pain and burden. Instead, she chose love.” 

He Hired Jim Voyles
Evan West

Danny Tunks was a blue-collar guy from Indiana, accused of killing a reputed mobster and facing a heap of evidence and life in prison. He was in serious, serious trouble. Then …


Grandad Gone Bad
Michael Rubino

“Chris Carlson made national headlines when a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon with his grandsons ended with Chris serving 27 months in a federal prison for child abuse. To write this story, I hiked the hike, then spent hours upon hours with him on calls from a prison pay phone in an attempt to understand what happened and why. To this day, I still think Chris was equal parts misguided and misunderstood. Sadly, he was shot and killed outside his Indy home in January 2016. Chris was 49.”

Ryan Murphy Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Tom Chiarella

The Indy-born creator of several of television’s biggest hits launches the second season of The Glee Project. But like many of the contestants, Murphy seems eager to leave his old life behind.

The Collapse
Evan West

On August 13, 2011, a violent wind gust toppled 35 tons of overhead stage rigging onto a crowd at the Indiana State Fair. Seven people died. Dozens were wounded. One year later, survivors of that night reveal, in riveting detail, the chaos, terror, heroism, providence, and pain of that shocking event—and the healing that has followed, sometimes all too slowly.


The Long Con
Michael Rubino

“Of all the stories I’ve written, this is my favorite. I like the story because it hinges on a surprise, and building toward that revelation without spoiling it took a lot of thought and care on the writing and editing end. I wrote it that way because I wanted the reader to experience a taste of betrayal, which I hoped would help them better empathize with the characters.” 

Mean Streets
Evan West

My old neighborhood used to be a nice little place to live. But since I moved back, rampant crime has made it a desperate, dangerous wasteland. It just took a botched burglary at a friend’s house for me to wake up and see it.

Susan Cox is No Longer Here
Justin Heckert

She was 52, homeless, and cancer-striken. A group of devoted strangers vowed that she would not die alone. And then something miraculous happened. One woman’s beautiful, strange, and troubling final days.

When Will Kristine Bunch Be Free?
Megan Fernandez

“Kristine Bunch is the most resilient person I’ve ever met. When I started to do the article, I went on a tour in a women’s prison. She was still in prison at the time, so when I met her, knowing her circumstances, I couldn’t believe the woman I was talking to had gone through what she had gone through for the last sixteen years. I just had to find out how she became that person—positive, refined, upbeat—after having been blamed for a heinous crime that she said she didn’t commit. I imagined that I would be filled with rage at that point, even sixteen years later. I just couldn’t believe that I was looking at someone who had come out of it, who hadn’t let herself spiral down a hole that she couldn’t come out of. It was harder for her to do that I’d ever imagined, because she didn’t have any help at the beginning. She had to find help from prison, without a family that could help her and without any money. To me, she came out of the absolute deepest hole I could imagine for somebody—she clawed her way out of that hole. It’s amazing to learn what somebody is capable of.”  —Megan Fernandez, author


The Boy With Half a Brain
Michael Rubino

“What William Butters experienced and overcame is phenomenal, but I was drawn to telling William’s story through the eyes of his parents. They were faced with such a horrible choice, but throughout the decision-making process—and aftermath—Tiernae and Jeff Butters really ascended to what is possible and best in all of us. I think that’s the appeal for readers, most of whom can empathize with being in a bad spot and then playing What Would I Do In This Situation? throughout the narrative.” 

Dear Kate
Nancy Comiskey

Following our daughter’s death, my husband and I saw no end to the grief. Yet we have somehow discovered meaning, hope, and even joy 10 years after life’s most terrible loss.

Larry Bird’s Greatest Shot
Michael Rubino

“Best, most revealing 10-minute interview of my life.”

John Green Finally Goes To The Movies
Julia Spalding

This interview was done during the period of time right before The Fault in Our Stars was released. There was a little bit of buzz that it was going to be a pretty great movie, so we were interviewing him to build up to the release of the movie. During the course of the interview, I think he became more of a household word, and people started recognizing him outside of his fierce, loyal following. It was fun to write this piece as he was beginning to hang out with Hollywood crowd and as famous people were starting to declare their love for John Green. He was extremely well-spoken, and he talks like the characters of his books. He was also extremely genuine. Everything that people think they know about him is probably true. He’s the guy that you would sit in your garage and drink beers with.” —Julia Spalding


The Proposal
Alison Copenbarger Vance

Dr. Gregory Konrath seemed like a good catch to his girlfriend. After she recorded the surgeon plotting to kill his ex-wife, police thought so, too.

Man of Conviction
Adam Wren

“When I first heard rumors of a local lawyer with a manslaughter in his past, I was skeptical. It sounded like the plot of a scrapped John Grisham novel. I thought I was on the receiving end of a tall tale over cocktails. But as I reported the story and met the subject, I turned up an even more complicated, tragic and redemptive narrative than the one that had been floating around.” —Adam Wren, contributing editor


The Wonder Years
Alicia Garceau

We spent the prime of our daughter’s childhood in doctors’ offices and hospital clinics. No one could tell us what was wrong with Rory—a medical mystery that not only took a toll on her health, but on our family as well.

Brian Payne’s Next Big Idea
Daniel Comiskey

In the Cultural Trail, Brian Payne had an idea big enough to transform downtown. With his latest concept, he aspires to reach much farther. Who’s ready for another ride?

Mary Milz

Don Huckstep thought he’d found true love in his small hometown of Fowler, Indiana. But when Teri Deneka mysteriously vanished from his life, the disappearance foreshadowed a bizarre—and grisly—series of discoveries that left Huckstep, police, and another man’s family with more questions than answers.

Confessions of a Free-Range Parent
Casey Kenley

How a letter to Santa—and a visit from the department of child services—reinforced this mother’s approach to free-range parenting.

The Master’s Call
Thomas French

The joy of growing up in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Dan Wakefield Needs a Ride
Evan West

The bestselling author made a late-life return to the hometown that angrily rejected him as a young man, after his greatest literary success. And in an ironic twist worthy of a novel, the city heartily embraced him at a time in his life when, perhaps, he needed it most. But does Indianapolis really want the complete, unabridged Dan Wakefield—or just the CliffsNotes?

White Space
Tony Rehagen

Banned from the United Kingdom and banished from Twitter, White Nationalist wunderkind Matthew Heimbach rode his rhetoric to the middle of nowhere: Paoli, Indiana.

The Wrecked, Rebuilt Life of Aldo Andretti
Daniel Comiskey

If you know anything about Aldo Andretti’s story, you might be inclined to feel sorry for him. Mario’s identical twin crashed violently out of racing in 1969 and watched as his brother became one of the most famous men in the world. But the prelude to Aldo’s short career, and what followed, proves that luck matters a lot less in life than how you react when you have to shift gears. 

Megan Fernandez

Roxane Gay’s new book gave me the courage to say, “I’m fat.”

The Confessions of Cleveland Bynum
Adam Wren

Seventeen years ago, Cleveland Bynum twice admitted to committing a gruesome quintuple murder, and was sentenced to 300 years in prison. In 2014, another confession from beyond the grave cast doubt on his guilt. Now, one of the city’s grittiest wrongful conviction lawyers, Fran Watson, is unearthing new evidence that raises the question: If a dead man can’t save Cleveland Bynum, can anyone?


Searching The Depths
Michael Koryta

Michael Korytas latest book, How It Happened, draws its inspiration from the disappearance of Jill Behrman.

Next In Line: The Burger Chef Murders
Tony Rehagen

An empty safe. A missing car. Four dead. After 40 years, the unsolved Burger Chef Murders that rocked Indianapolis during one of its most tempestuous years still puzzle investigators—mostly because some believe They cracked the case decades ago.


Pete Buttigieg Has His Eye On The Prize
Adam Wren

Can South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg work the angles to become a dark-horse presidential contender in 2020?

How An Old White Guy Got Woke
Dan Wakefield

Almost 65 years ago, I covered the murder trial that helped trigger the Civil Rights movement. In the decades that followed, I befriended the iconic black author James Baldwin. But it took returning home to Indianapolis in my 80s to fully appreciate the terrible injustice this country inflicts on its citizens of color.

Ripped From The Headlines
Adam Wren

Indianapolis-based Crime Junkie, one of the hottest podcasts in the country, has built a seven-figure business telling stories about true crime. Too bad the tales aren’t their own.