With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Getting letters from readers is part of what makes my job so interesting — though being editor of The Sun has never really felt like a job. For more than twenty-two years, I’ve woken up every morning certain of at least one thing: The Sun is my work, my path. Sure, I put in long hours, but so do lovers thinking of new ways to delight each other; so does the teenager who stays up half the night playing her violin.
As soon as I hear the letter carrier come through the front door, I hurry downstairs to greet him. When he hands me the thick stack of letters and postcards and manila envelopes, I feel as if I’m participating in some kind of sacrament. Of course, all life is a sacrament, but at times I feel especially blessed.
I flip impatiently through the bills and advertising brochures, like a child racing through a pile of leaves: across the street, under the spreading branches, friends wait for me. I may never have laid eyes on them before, but they’re friends all the same.
Julianne Kruly of Tujunga, California, writes, “You have no idea how many times simply reading The Sun has helped me walk beyond the brink of despair and remember that I’m not alone, that I’m not crazy.” Sam Williams of Los Angeles tells us that, though he extols the virtues of The Sun, “its basic charm, of course, is that it isn’t strictly virtuous.” From Coupeville, Washington, Janice Pickard marvels that “even a seasoned old psychotherapist like myself, who hears such human stories all day, is deeply moved by the essays and letters.” And Elizabeth Monson of Salem, Oregon, confides, “My husband and I fight over The Sun. Once, I found an issue hidden under his pillow. Sometimes I hide it in a stack of other magazines. Usually I just read it cover to cover in a totally irresponsible way while dinner burns or I’m running late to pick up the children from school. Thank God it doesn’t come every week.”
I’m grateful, too, for the occasional letter that brings me down to earth. “My daughter gave me a gift subscription,” writes L. B., “and I believe it to be the most disgusting magazine I have ever read. I just never know what I’ll find in it next time.” Happily, L. B. didn’t cancel her subscription. Perhaps, like Patrick Glancy of Salem, Oregon, she’ll one day be able to say, “I appreciate everything I see in The Sun, even the things I may not want to see at first.” Or perhaps I’m dreaming.
Some readers approach The Sun warily, like worried travelers sampling some exotic cuisine: Is it too spicy? Too strange? After all, sometimes the most ordinary emotions can seem frightening, and even our own bodies can feel like foreign countries; it’s not surprising we all develop different tastes. To be in a human incarnation on this blue-green planet is a profound mystery, and we each celebrate the mystery differently. More garlic, please!
Perhaps you know someone who would welcome The Sun’s unpredictable menu. Once again this year we extend our special holiday gift offer: If you order a one-year gift subscription at $32, you may order additional one-year subscriptions at half price — only $16 each. There’s no limit on the number of half-price subscriptions you may give. (We’re sorry, but you can’t renew your own subscription as part of this offer.)
Or you may want to order one of our anthologies: A Bell Ringing in the Empty Sky: The Best of The Sun; Sunbeams: A Book of Quotations; or Four in the Morning: Essays by Sy Safransky.
We’ll send a card announcing your gift. And we’ll bill you after the holidays, if you wish.
Please send check or credit-card information to The Sun, 107 North Roberson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.
— Sy Safransky