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The Sun Interview

Limiting The Future

An Interview With David Ehrenfeld

There are some things we can’t fool with, and if they have been fooled with we have to give up the idea we can fix them. There are some scars even plastic surgeons can’t fix.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories


On the nineteenth of April 1989, one of the huge gun turrets on the battleship Iowa blew up, killing the sailors who were manning it. Debate about responsibility for the explosion continued long afterward, but lost in the emotion of the tragedy was a curious aspect of the story. According to the commander of the ship, interviewed after the event, it was expected to be difficult, if not impossible, to fix the damaged gun turret. The Iowa is of World War II vintage, and he feared that the materials and technological know-how to repair its gigantic guns might not exist anymore.

The True, Original First World

A key theme in the political rhetoric and media punditry of the seventies and eighties was the Cold War confrontation between what were called the “First World” and the “Second World.” These two worlds were said to be competing for the political allegiance and economic alliance of so-called “Third World” countries, which were seen as needing “development” in order to bring them to the levels of prosperity assumed (falsely) to be prevalent in the industrialized First and Second Worlds.


Memory’s Tailor

“Listen carefully, comrade,” Academician Pudenkin told Berman, the tailor, when they were seated in the Zil limousine. “There is no excuse for being unprepared, and no time to waste once we are inside. Here is what you need to know.”

So Familiar And Yet So Strange

First, there was the customer ahead of Simon in line disputing the price of a jumbo jar of sliced jalapeños. Then the senior who was low on cash and tried to pay on a credit card, invalidated three times. And then the lady with a payroll check and no identification. On the interstate, rush-hour traffic was backed up for miles, bottlenecked by giant earthmovers where they’re building the new theme park. Simon made an illegal U-turn across the median, exited onto the old airport feeder, and got lost.


Perry was just another scrubby desert town tucked behind a minor highway — to us it was a highway; to the state it was a tired dirt road that had been paved in an election year and forgotten. The mountains ringed the town, framing a shiftless blue sky that after too many summer days dug deep and hard into your bones until you were crazy with its steadiness. At night the mountains corralled the stars into a herd and marched them off the horizon. Maybe an outsider would find Perry beautiful, but living there made us careless. We let the town fill up with prefab houses, junk cars, litter, dried-up cactuses, gangly power lines, and any other spiteful ugliness we could imagine. You thought nothing of tossing an empty beer bottle, of deliberately smashing it on the pavement and watching the broken pieces glitter at your feet.

Crimson Tide

We’re standing in the drizzle — me and Uncle Oscar and Daddy and the chaplain and two soldiers who look like they’ve marched right out of the toy box. I half expect their feet to be welded to plastic platforms wedged into piles of sand, the way Bradley used to set up his army men in the back yard. The chaplain, his granny glasses fogged by the rain, has finished his prayers. The soldiers fold the flag that was on top of Bradley’s coffin into a neat triangle and present it to Daddy, who tucks it inside his coat. Then, all by itself, Bradley’s coffin starts sinking into the hole — like Kreskin or Uri Geller is doing a trick — except you can hear the electric motor whirring from the other side of the coffin.

Readers Write

The End Of The Day

I grew up on a farm in the Mahoning Valley of northeastern Ohio. Our house was at the bottom of a small hill. Each morning in summer, my father and I would walk up the hill together into the rising sun, and each night we would walk back down toward the sunset, looking forward to a shower, some lemonade or ice cream, and a little sit-down time before bed. The sun would paint the western sky as we matched strides, speculating on the next day’s weather and discussing what needed to be done.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

December 1995

I keep imagining that someday I’ll get caught up: write those letters, read those books. What a great imagination! My plans smile at me from tomorrow, always tomorrow. And here it is, always today.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


“Nothing ever gets anywhere. The earth keeps turning round and round and gets nowhere. The moment is the only thing that counts.”

Jean Cocteau

More Quotations ▸
We’re Counting on You

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