Narratively

Human stories, boldly told.

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How Ted Bundy’s Killing Spree Launched a Legion of Feminist Karate Masters

[] Before the man showed up, Py Bateman was having a regular day. She had swung by the karate dojo to let in some students and was now arriving home to freshen up. Her friend would be picking her up soon. They had plans to go to a folk festival. The man must have hid behind the low wall separating her deck from her house, because as soon as she stepped...

The Pandemic Ruined My Poly Relationship—But Saved My Marriage

[] My boyfriend, Max, continued to needle me. “I just think it’s a little, you know, pampered of you and your friends, that you can afford to be so … paranoid.” I bristled, but I let the writer in me reply first. “I think you mean ‘privileged,’ not ‘pampered’ — I’d hardly call this a romp at the spa — but, like, seriously?” As we talked, I paced the...

The Secret Sisterhood of Offshore Oil Workers

[] María de Jesús Ramos Cárdenas didn’t know what she was doing when she arrived at the helicopter pad in Ciudad del Carmen, an island city along Mexico’s gulf coast, in September 1988. She didn’t know much about the offshore oil industry. But she was tired of using her medical degree only haphazardly — giving consults when and where she could, often...

The Writers Who Want to Get Americans to Talk to Each Other Again

[] In these divisive times, it can be hard to build relationships with people who have different viewpoints. Narratively contributors Justine Lee and Tria Chang teamed up to try to bridge the gap between those on different sides of the political spectrum. Their method: dinner conversations. Lee and Chang talked to Narratively about their own friendship,...

The Warriors of a Failed Revolution

[] H. Bruce Franklin was the center of attention at Stanford University’s White Plaza one winter day in 1971. The steely-eyed, raven-haired associate English professor delivered a fiery speech during a campus rally. Stray dogs ran laps around the crossed legs of student revolutionaries as Franklin spit his ire toward an unlikely target: the campus...

My Journey Into the Secret Subculture of Gays With Guns

[] A little over a year had passed since the Pulse nightclub shooting in my hometown of Orlando when I stumbled upon the group on Meetup.com. Its profile picture stood out among the book clubs and amateur sports leagues using generic clip art to advertise themselves. This one featured a silver bullet, the tip of it fire blue, next to the words “Gays...

My Dad, the Globetrotting Businessman, Paleographer…and Spy?

[] “When I came home from work, the cook told me that some men had entered the house with machine guns drawn,” my father recalled dramatically as he tucked me and my brother in to bed. At bedtime, instead of reading us stories from the pages of fairytales or books of cartoons, my dad used to tell my twin brother and me stories about his own life. This...

A Memoir about Multiple Personalities That’s 25 Years in the Making

[] Many writers find memoir especially challenging because they are living in a story that does not have a set ending. Librarian Vivian Conan says that in writing her memoir Losing the Atmosphere: A Baffling Disorder, A Search for Help, and the Therapist Who Understood, the conclusion of her decades-long project changed as her life and relationship...

Food Fads Have Always Been Ridiculous. Just Ask the Great Masticator.

[] On December 27, 1907, Clara Webster hosted a dinner at her modest home on Highland Avenue in Dixon, Illinois. The 18-year-old was known throughout the town for her elaborate theme parties, but on that particular night, Webster would throw one of her oddest events yet: a munching party. At the time, meticulous mastication was in vogue. On both sides...

The (Literally) Unbelievable Story of the Original Fake News Network

[] Guatemala City looked like a ghost town. The capital’s 450,000 residents hid in panicked self-quarantine, waiting for the first wave to arrive. World War I–style military planes periodically flew overhead, firing warning shots and dropping leaflets telling people to either flee or stay indoors. A civil war was moving toward them. All week, Guatemalan...

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