Issue 338 | The Sun Magazine

February 2004

Readers Write

Small Towns

Gossip, a sense of community, a surfeit of characters

By Our Readers
Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2004

For the next war, instead of an army composed of those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, let’s start at the top. We can begin with the men and women who serve in Congress, or sit on the boards of Fortune 500 companies, or drive Humvees to the mall.

By Sy Safransky


Man made the city, God made the country, but the devil made the small town.

The Reverend Vernon G. McGee

The Sun Interview

Biting The Hand That Feeds: How Globalization Cripples Small Farms

An Interview With Vandana Shiva

This year farmers started to commit suicide in Uttar Pradesh, the richest agricultural state in India. Some of the most fertile soil in the world can be found there, and the region has never had agricultural problems. But the first rule of globalization says, “Don’t grow food for yourself; grow export crops.” So the farmers there all grew potatoes. And then potato prices collapsed. The potato-chip makers have walked off with super profits, and the farmers have been left with huge debts.

By Arnie Cooper
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Sparrows In Purity Supreme

Sometimes when I’m sad, I become convinced that the world is going to end. And it will end someday, of course, but scientists give it billions of years yet. My “sense of impending doom” (the phrase psychiatrists use to describe this type of fear) is all out of proportion to what I know to be true.

By Sybil Smith
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

All My Things Considered

In September 2002, I made the decision to move from California to Australia to live with my partner, and by December I was flying to Melbourne. In just two months, I packed up or got rid of all my material possessions.

By Gillian Kendall
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

House Proud

I first noticed the house early one spring afternoon as I was driving through Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where I’d taken a job teaching English at Southeast Missouri State. I was new in town and unfamiliar with the neighborhoods west of campus.

By Jake Gaskins
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Morel Of The Story

The year I moved to Montana, a man shot another man for picking huckleberries in “his” huckleberry patch. He claimed he thought the picker was a grizzly bear. I didn’t know which to fear more: grizzlies or men with guns. A city girl, I was used to people getting shot — just not over huckleberries.

By Laura A. Munson

Where You Could End Up

I’ve been staying with my friend Jackson, and I’m wearing his large red flannel jacket with the blue padding inside. I hope he lets me keep it. It’s a comfortable jacket, and I’d freeze otherwise. The wind is blowing. In Chicago in the winter, the wind chill is the only measurement that matters. I wish Maria would get here before the cold sinks into me permanently.

By Stephen Elliott