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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Eight Days In Brooklyn

“ ‘Black rage’ — it’s a new defense for the Long Island Killer, sort of like an insanity plea,” my dad says as he drives us toward Brooklyn from La Guardia Airport. I have just arrived with my daughter, Rose, from northern Idaho for our annual week-long visit and I’m anxious for news.

One Violent Crime

In the moments of greatest threat, there were no Schwarzeneggers, no stand-alone heroes. . . . but neither were there abject victims. Instead, amid the confusion and panic of life-threatening attack, people reached out to one another.

Never Let Me Down

One night, at an hour that was normally my bedtime, I got all dressed up, and my mother and father and I drove into New York City, down to the Half Note, a jazz club on Hudson Street. I was thirteen, maybe fourteen, and had never experienced any nightlife. I had heard jazz all my life, on records or the radio, my father beating out time on the kitchen table, the steering wheel, letting out a breathy yeah when the music soared and flew. When the musicians were cooking, when they really swung, it transported him; he was gone inside the music. I couldn’t go there with him, but I thought I could understand it. It seemed that anyone could, hearing that music: Bird, Diz, Pres, Sweets, Lester, Al, Zoot. It was my father’s music, though he never played a note.

In Rejection I Remain

The Collected Letters Of William Penrod

thanks again for taking the time. greatly appreciate your comments on the rejection, even though i was sure you would take “quitting.” a guy quitting jerking off — ­what could be more literary?

Zen Failure

For many years while practicing Zen, I thought I was a failure. But as more years went by, I began to realize that failure is the heart of Zen. Failure is what Zen is about. Perhaps it’s what life is about. Successes never seem to last. Death, after all, comes in the end to take all successes away. If you want something abiding, something for the long run, look to failure.


I Wish I Had The Energy To Clean My Stove

After the girls leave for school and Les leaves for work, the house is very quiet. The children go first because the school bus has to take them clear across town. Since Les’s job is just around the corner, he sits at the kitchen table with me for forty-five minutes after the girls are gone and reads the paper and drinks another couple of cups of coffee. The house is quiet then, with just his sipping and page turning. Still, it’s a different kind of quiet later, after he gets his coat out of the hall closet with a great rattle of hangers and then pulls the front door shut behind him with a click. Sometimes I stand at the window and watch him walk past the empty bus stop, past the two giant sycamores in front of what used to be the Barlows’ house, until he’s out of sight.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write


In junior high and high school, one of the worst times of year for me was softball season. I couldn’t play at all and was always among the last chosen when teams were made up. I and the other girls who were just plain failures at sports slunk around trying to be invisible and dreading our turn at bat. I was always assigned to play right field, the spot least likely for the ball to be hit, but, inevitably, once or twice each season I would get struck in the mouth attempting to field a grounder and come home with a fat lip or a chipped tooth.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

July 1995

Right-wing extremists used to despise Communists; now they despise the U.S. government. If the Devil didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.

Martin Luther King Jr.

More Quotations ▸
We’re Counting on You

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