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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

Next To Godliness

The Story Behind Dr. Bronner’s Soap — An Interview With Ralph Bronner

A few times a month, I’m asked whether we’re a New Age religion or a cult. Well, we’re not, or if we are, we have no members. Our family is running a soap business based on Dad’s teachings. All he did is what any religious person does: he read the great works — the Torah, the Bible, Thomas Paine — and picked what he liked. His theology was a sort of cosmic soup.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


I like to look at people’s skin. The way others might notice a man’s eyes, or the curve of a woman’s hip, I notice complexion and skin tone. It’s not the face I’m drawn to but the skin on forearms or around the collarbone, the wrinkles on knuckles — that’s real skin. For me, catching a glimpse of some hidden patch of skin is like seeing that person naked, like hearing his or her darkest secret.

The One Who Steals The Fat

The other night, I was talking with Linda Grigg, an organic farmer, about consumerism. Linda said she was kind of glad that she and her husband, Jim Moses, will never make enough money to be tempted to deeds like buying a not-altogether-pleasing million-dollar house with Lake Michigan frontage and then remodeling it to the tune of seven hundred thousand dollars (an actual instance of mega-consumption she’d just heard about from acontractor friend). Unlike me, Linda didn’t get outraged or even righteously indignant about such plutocratic show, being wise enough to see that those lakeside-mansion owners might just be doing what comes naturally to folks in their position. What I might regard as vastly ostentatious spending evidently has its own internal, if hermetic, logic. Similarly, much of my spending makes sense to me but doubtless would seem gross to a real frugality adept. What is luxury to one woman is necessity to another, and most of us define enough as “just a little more.”

She’ll Wrap Her Arms Around Us

The house wasn’t yellow when we moved in, but it needed a fresh coat of paint. I regretted the choice almost immediately. All that yellow made the ramshackle building too bright, too cheerful, too . . . yellow. It hardly looked like the home of a serious little magazine. But, for thirteen years, that’s what it was.


My Life As A Mermaid

I get another letter from my sister Kay, who is in Honduras riding mules and skidding around the muddy mountain roads in a pickup truck. The roads have curves sharp enough to tempt death, she writes, sharp enough for you to see yourself leaving. When the priest drives, her life is in real danger; his faith is too big for safety or reason. Kay hopes for the truck to break down. Until then, she and her fellow relief workers cower in the open bed as the priest speeds through the countryside; they lean all their weight toward the mountain to keep the truck from sliding off the washed-out roads. Some days, they carry their supplies up into the mountains by foot. They pack Tylenol, Imodium, vitamins, a variety of antibiotics (Keflex, Pen VK, erythromycin, Lorabid, Roxar), tubes of antifungal cream, and everything for parasites.

The Year In Geese

I don’t see eye to eye with the large white geese now sharing our hilltop, home to three neighbors and myself. For one thing, the endless days of rain have made them ecstatic — and why not? Every day their watery home grows larger, adds another wing, while I become morose and resentful, watching the margins of my outdoor living space grow smaller, mud and goose droppings at every step.

Readers Write

The Bathroom

I grew up in a family of five children. For many years in our perpetually under-construction house, the bathroom was the only room with a working door lock. Thus, it was the only place one could — briefly — be alone.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


“We have so many words for states of mind, and so few for the states of the body.”

Jeanne Moreau

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