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The Sun Interview

The Blessing Is Next To The Wound

A Conversation With Hector Aristizábal About Torture And Transformation

For a long time, during the dirty war in Colombia, when my friends were being shot dead all around me, my goal was just to survive. But after I was tortured, my goal changed. It was not just to survive, but to live a meaningful life. Sometimes, in the ordeal, we find the seeds of our identity.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Irving

In the small Nebraska town where I live, I am known as “the cook.” People I don’t know will often stare at me fuzzily for a moment before a flash of recognition lights their face: “Hey, I know you. You’re the cook.” Which is reasonable enough, I suppose, since I am the cook at the Olde Main Street Inn, the chief dinner house in town. It isn’t exactly what I’ve dreamed of being all my life, however. To be honest, being the cook is an unwanted byproduct of my efforts to be “the writer.”

Heart Of Darkness

My mother-in-law is writing a memoir about my husband’s life. Robb died in 1997, of a heart attack, at the age of thirty-seven. Many deaths are unexpected, but his felt especially so, as no particular reason emerged for why this healthy man would wake up one morning and have a heart attack. Not that people didn’t search for a reason: He must have smoked. No. Then he was overweight. No. Did he exercise? Yes. High blood pressure? No. Cholesterol? Fine. His parents must have died early deaths. No.


Recently samples of baby products — diapers, formula, wipes — have begun showing up in my mail. Packets of coupons with smiling infants on them arrive in envelopes that say, “Congratulations!” in big red letters.


Maggie Fever

I lived with my older brother and his wife in Gulfport, Mississippi, from when I was seven until I was fourteen years old, but then my brother got stationed on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Bahrain, and I got sent out to Albuquerque to live with my grandpa. My grandpa was weird and scary; he hardly ever said a word, just spat and grunted.

Readers Write


On the seventeen-hour return trip from France, my husband and I had one of our typical fights. It continued in the baggage-claim area. “You always think you’re right,” I shouted. “Well, you’re not!” He walked away, leaving me with our two toddlers and four oversized suitcases. I waited an hour, thinking he’d come back. He didn’t.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

October 2005

At the gym, climbing a staircase that goes nowhere, I watched a commentator on CNN mourn the death of New Orleans. Perhaps the city will be rebuilt, he said, but it will never be the same. And for the first time since Hurricane Katrina had crashed into the Gulf Coast, I felt not only mounting grief and anger but also a pang of regret, because I’d seen many great cities in my life, but I’d never seen New Orleans.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


The sun shines and warms and lights us and we have no curiosity to know why this is so; but we ask the reason of all evil, of pain, and hunger.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

More Quotations ▸
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