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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

From Boys To Men

A Conversation With Robert Bly

Bly: I think the greatest mistake in consciousness in this century is the belief that fathers are not important. Both men and women have accepted that. The men have accepted it more grudgingly, but nevertheless they’ve accepted it, so that when a man gets divorced, he may simply say, “Well, I’ll let her raise the children.”

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Gays And The Men’s Movement

During lunch we’re encouraged to sit with our small groups, to allow the kind of emotional check-in that isn’t possible among a hundred men. Today, three days into a week-long gathering, I’m feeling somewhat cranky about the invisibility of gay men at what was billed as the First Multicultural Men’s Conference. The main intention of the conference was to have fifty black men and fifty white men live together in cabins in the West Virginia woods for a week, along with poet Robert Bly, psychologist James Hillman, storyteller Michael Meade, playwright Joseph Walker, poet and essayist Haki Madhubuti, and West African medicine man Malidoma Somé. I was naive enough to believe that “multicultural” meant something more than race, that the conference would be a celebration of sexual diversity as well, so I am annoyed at the elders’ silence on anything having to do with gay men. Today I’ve made it a point to wear my ACT UP T-shirt, which shows two young sailors smooching over the legend “Read My Lips,” if only to identify myself to other gay brothers. (I haven’t spotted any yet.)

The Secret

“From Washington, D.C.? Really?” people say, perking right up when I tell them where I’m from; it seems to start a line of uncontrollable conversation. “My glee club went there my senior year. I just loved the Lincoln Memorial. We went to this great restaurant in Georgetown, an Italian place. You must know it.” You can stop right there. I wouldn’t know it. I haven’t been to Washington in twenty years.


I can’t believe how naive I was when I interviewed Stephen Schwartz last year. I was drawn to his warmth, his humor, the beauty of his language. I was moved by his insights about emotional healing. There’s no ideal state of consciousness, he insisted, other than the one we find ourselves in right now. The body doesn’t need to be transcended. The personality doesn’t need to be fixed. Caring for ourselves begins with paying attention to feelings, not our tangled stories about our feelings.


Family Genes

Chloe looked at Big Daddy, huddled and quivering in her grandmother’s lap. Big Daddy, once a plump, nervous, annoying Chihuahua, was now a frail, nervous, annoying Chihuahua. Every so often he would snort and wheeze and gag, like an aging coal miner. Chloe’s Aunt Katie had owned him for fourteen years and they had grown old alike. Both were emaciated, foul-tempered, shriveled, and looked like they smelled a rotting mouse under the floorboards.

Losing A Preposition

In April, Boyd’s sister phoned from Los Angeles, where several years ago she had landed a leading part in a movie that flopped, was resurrected for a brief life on cable, and then disappeared. She kept auditioning for more movie parts but never got one. She made some commercials, played dinner theater, took acting classes, worked as a secretary, married and divorced, and had an abortion. She called Boyd one warm spring evening, saying that maybe she was having another nervous breakdown and that she wanted to come stay with him for a while.


A Death-Defying Act:

The Work Of Jane Orleman

Growing up in the 1950s, Jane Orleman lived in a shadow world, light years from the all-American television homes of “Father Knows Best” and “Make Room For Daddy,” with their charming, benevolent patriarchs.

May 1993
Readers Write

Fathers And Daughters

Daddy was the only piano tuner in the area, and he sometimes took me with him when he tuned pianos at the local churches. I loved exploring the dark, empty buildings with their peculiar smells and sacred objects, but I was never totally alone, hearing my father play a single note over and over in the distance. Some of the churches had lots of pianos. The First Baptist, a grand place, had thirteen.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


When one has not had a good father, one must create one.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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