Editors’ Picks: The 20 Best Narratively Stories

In celebration of our 200th week of publishing dynamic and compelling untold tales, we present our 20 best as voted by our editors.

1. My Childhood in an Apocalyptic Cult

By Flor Edwards

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Illustration by Jesse Lucas

A clandestine cult with twenty children to a room, no outside music, movies or books, and no contact beyond the compound. For the first fifteen years of my life, this was my normal.

2. The Ins & The Outs

By Vinnie Rotondaro & Maura Ewing

Photo by Mo Scarpelli
Photo by Mo Scarpelli

Along one of New York’s most rapidly changing boulevards, a look below the surface exposes what — and who — is really driving gentrification in Crown Heights.

3. Legends Never Die

By Caroline Rothstein

Photo courtesy Gunars Elmuts
Photo courtesy Gunars Elmuts

Two decades after a low-budget film turned Washington Square skaters into international celebrities, the kids from “Kids” struggle with lost lives, distant friendships, and the fine art of growing up.

4. Searching for the Nazi Who Saved My Mother’s Life 

By Karen Kirsten

Illustration by Vinnie Neuberg
Illustration by Vinnie Neuberg

Among my family’s many wartime secrets is the shocking story of the SS officer who rescued my mother as a toddler and hid her in a Polish convent. I fixated on tracking down this Nazi torturer eager to learn more about his surprising act of kindness.

5. Nick Brown Smelled Bull

By Vinnie Rotondaro

Illustration by Kevin Huizenga
Illustration by Kevin Huizenga

A plucky amateur dared to question a celebrated psychological finding. He wound up blowing the whole theory wide open.

6. The Joe + Heidi Show

By Lilly O’Donnell

Photo courtesy Lilly O'Donnell
Photo courtesy Lilly O’Donnell

From art studios to strip clubs and drug dens, a young woman sifts through handwritten letters and distant memories to trace the tumultuous path of her parents’ marriage.

7. A Super Strange True Love Story

By Annalisa Merelli & Riol Dankó

Illustration by Ayun Halliday
Illustration by Ayun Halliday

After years of avoiding love, I found a match that seemed almost too perfect. We were practically walking down the aisle before I realized it really was too good to be true.

8. The Man Who Got America High

By Jeff Maysh

Illustration by Naomi Elliott
Illustration by Naomi Elliott

He chartered the Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead in private jets, while smuggling planeloads of Pablo Escobar’s drugs on the side. After disappearing for decades, Alfred Dellentash Jr. finally shares his unbelievable life story — for the very first time.

9. The Day My Therapist Dared Me to Have Sex With Her

By Michael Stahl

Illustration by Casey Roonan
Illustration by Casey Roonan

My analyst and I grew more intimately connected each week of treatment…but I never saw this indecent proposal coming.

10. Beating and Bleeding for Christ

Photo by Andrea de Franciscis
Photo by Andrea de Franciscis

Defying objections from church and state alike, the men of one small Italian village carry on an 800-year-old tradition, one vicious self-inflicted wound at a time.

11. When a Father’s Son Becomes His Daughter

By Meredith Ramirez Talusan

Illustration by Esther Hong
Illustration by Esther Hong

My domineering dad stood by me during my gender transition, but I didn’t truly become a woman until I finally stood up to him.

12. Toxic Gumbo

Photo by Giles Clarke
Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images Reportage

The waterway linking Gulf Coast oil with the refineries of Baton Rouge has brought great prosperity to Louisiana. But the people living in “Cancer Alley” have a different story to tell.

13. Just Like Clock Work

By Emon Hassan

Image by Emon Hassan
Image by Emon Hassan

Master horologist John Metcalfe takes us inside his “hospital for clocks,” a precisely-tuned world where time never stops.

14. Planning My Father-Daughter Dance Without My Dad

By Lilly O’Donnell

Photo courtesy Lilly O'Donnell
Photo courtesy Lilly O’Donnell

Each day my perfect trip down the aisle grows closer, my mind wanders ever closer to my father, who, even in death, is teaching me that grief doesn’t have to overshadow joy.

15. The Night My Parents Had Me Kidnapped

By Kenneth R. Rosen

Illustration by Andrew Standeven
Illustration by Andrew Standeven

Two strangers dragged me from bed in the middle of the night and drove me into the woods. But this wasn’t a random abduction — just my first step into the world of controversial boot camps for troubled teens.

16. The Race to Save the Baby With ‘Two Heads’

By Brennan O’Connor

Photo by Brennan O'Connor
Photo by Brennan O’Connor

A rare birth defect leaves a Myanmar newborn with a dangerous bulge growing from her head. When local doctors say there’s nothing they can do, her desperate parents scrape together the funds for an epic journey to save her life.

17. The Voices in My Brother’s Head

By Maria Lazzati

Image courtesy Maria Lazzati
Image courtesy Maria Lazzati

After schizophrenia upended a young man’s life, the notes he left behind offer clues to the horrors that haunted his mind.

 18. The Magic Poop Potion

By Lina Zeldovich

Illustration by Laurel Lynn Leake
Illustration by Laurel Lynn Leake

An Indiana grandma killed off a devastating superbug with a homemade fecal transplant and then embarked on a crusade to win over the FDA.

19. Stop-And-Frisk’s Fiercest Foe

By Sara Maria Glanowski

Photo by Sara Maria Glanowski
Photo by Sara Maria Glanowski

As New York’s minority communities fume over the controversial crime-fighting tactic known as stop-and-frisk, one camera-wielding ex-con makes it his mission to catch the cops in action.

20. Love and Laughter in a Time of ISIS

By Marieke van der Velden

Photo by Marieke van der Velden
Photo by Marieke van der Velden

From the thrill of amusement parks to the bustle of beauty salons, a wartime photographer discovers that even amid the chaos and calamity of endless conflict, life in Iraq still goes on.

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