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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

Thinking Outside The Classroom

An Interview With Zenobia Barlow

Unfortunately, in this culture, at this moment in time, we seem to be magnifying our capacity to disturb, disrespect, and disconnect. This disconnection is at the heart of our problem. . . . How do we create conditions that foster empathy, as opposed to violence?

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Happiness Box

I have to begin with us in bed, Jack’s hands cupping my face, his blue eyes pinning me fiercely to the pillow, daring me to look away. I moan and thrash my head from side to side. He holds me while I cry, letting me sob freely into his chest until the storm passes through me, and I feel the shudders move from my body into his.

Six Henry Stories

Language has vertical limits. Not just any speaker can pack up his speech and tote it at will to a higher elevation. Where there is a will, there is as often a major embarrassment as there is a way. Like a gymnast on parallel bars, the speaker or writer who successfully conveys exaltation must possess sufficient mental muscle to hoist himself above the level of everyday verbiage without appearing to strain. Again like the gymnast, he must be able to lift all of himself, all by himself. It is not the help of speech coaches and writers, height of pulpit, number of advanced degrees, thickness of thesaurus, histrionic techniques, or any such contrivance that truly lifts language: it is personal integrity. It’s the ability to imbue one’s words with the physical momentum, intellectual clarity, and psychic depth that only the actual deeds of a life can provide. If Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous Washington, D.C., speech of 1963, had said, “In my heart, I know I’m right,” and if Richard Nixon, in his resignation speech a decade later, had said, “I have a dream,” the world would have remembered King’s heart and forgotten Nixon’s dream. It is not just the words that make words memorable.

Your Mum And Dad

My parents hail from a generation who must arrive at least an hour before every engagement, for whom being on time is a divine mandate. Thus, we pull into the Charlotte airport well before the departure time for their return flight to Pittsburgh. They have been in North Carolina for two weeks: their annual spring visit, during which they exchange the routine of their household for the routine of ours. The key difference, of course — the rarifying element — is that our house has children, and my parents literally worship children, especially their grandchildren.



A friend sends me a newspaper clipping from the town I once shared with him, a place way back up in the Sierras, hidden from all but the hardiest tourists. The clipping is an obituary: the man who took away my younger brother’s good looks has died of cancer. For fifteen years, I had meant to track this man down and hurt him, but I never did, and now to read of his death makes me unaccountably sad. I know without thinking that my sadness has nothing to do with any kind of regret about failed retribution.

Readers Write


it was the day after my birthday, back when I still drank a lot and often, and I was standing in a supermarket express lane with a ripping hangover, buying a pack of cigarettes. A thin and very old woman in front of me was buying a birthday cake — one of those sheet cakes they make at the grocery store. That was it. There was nothing else in her basket. Hey, I thought, someone has almost the same birthday as me.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

March 2002

Yesterday, I saw so much unhappiness in people’s eyes, all of us rushing somewhere. Construction noise and dust filled the air; we could have been hurrying down some boulevard in hell. And I was reminded that this is hell unless I extend compassion to those around me. If my heart isn’t open, I’m just another tourist here, collecting memories, looking for the perfect souvenir.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


School was a worry to her. She was not glib or quick in a world where glibness and quickness were easily confused with ability to learn.

Tillie Olsen

More Quotations ▸
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