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Featured Selections

From the Archives

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Cleaned Out

One of the steps AA asks of recovering alcoholics is to make “a searching and fearless moral inventory” of themselves, and now, alone in my motel room, I find myself fairly obsessed with my stuff: how much of it there is and how long it will last. I have my laptop and a suitcase containing T-shirts, jeans, and khakis, three long-sleeved shirts, one pair of shorts, vitamins, and an assortment of toiletries. I have a tote bag stuffed with books, which will, along with the hiking boots I have brought for weekends, turn out to be the most useless items in my inventory.

By Barbara Ehrenreich January 2003
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Drowning Revisited

It is always someone’s fault. A drowning is rarely blameless. At the very least, there’s a lingering feeling that it could have been prevented. Your friend recommends a good vacation spot in the Bahamas to her neighbors; they go, and the husband drowns.

By Megan McNamer May 2002
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

First Empty Your Cup

Nikkō has many temples and pagodas, but the architecture didn’t move me. It was the forest; it was the quiet. It was obvious why this had been a sacred Buddhist site for more than a millennium. You could feel it. There was an interiority to the forest, a layering of quiet. The temples; the forest; you. And the snow, yet another layer, placing a hush on everything, taking you one step farther inside. I shivered. I lingered there by a shogun-era drum tower, its flared roof dusted in snow, a stand of cedars rising above it.

By Andrew Boyd December 2011
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Quills

My companion, Amelia, had a clear view of the whole incident. It went like this: It was 6 P.M. on a Friday, and we both wanted to finish stripping the doors of this old farmhouse before dinner. With a lot of little bedrooms, we had a lot of doors to strip.

By Bird Cupps April 2002
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Classified Ad

The Sumner Press, the weekly paper from my hometown in southeastern Illinois, continues to arrive in my mailbox in Ohio even though I’m not a subscriber. A few years ago, when my wife and I were the grand marshals for the Sumner fall-festival parade, the publisher gave us a complimentary one-year subscription. The subscription has run out, but the paper keeps coming, as if a higher power has decided I need it in my life.

By Lee Martin September 2009
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Way Home

Jessica and I periodically take walks together. Her small dog, Ortiz, sometimes joins us. He spends his days eating shoes, peeing on the carpet, and jumping the backyard fence. But no matter where we go, I notice that he always knows the way home.

By Jane Ratcliffe July 2019
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

You Are An Awful Parent

Suddenly you have a crisis: You’re tired of parenting. You’ve had it with this kid. You would give her back, but there’s no one to give her to. It’s too humiliating to offer her up for adoption. I am a fucking awful parent, you think. And you are a fucking awful parent. Join the club. There are about 150 million of us in the U.S.A. at the moment.

By Sparrow February 2008
Poetry

Snowstorm

Heavy, wet snow all morning, then by noon / the clouds wrung dry, whipped away, / the sky so brilliant after the viewing / and graveside service for our youngest

By John Bargowski January 2012
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Cat Years

He stops short, horrified that he has interrupted his employer during an emotional moment. Bishop quickly wipes away her tears and says, in Portuguese, Don’t worry, José. I’m only crying in English.

By Christine Marshall January 2020
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Unknowing

Watching my wife, I have finally found the key to the map. I understand why men have spent millennia constructing systems to strip the power from this body: Look how she pulls her spine up to the sky. Look how effortlessly she strings herself between the ordinary and the divine.

By Laura Price Steele June 2021