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We Are Not Worth More, They Are Not Worth Less

The Odyssey Of S. Brian Willson

I think of myself as a recovering white male, recovering from my early conditioning about how to be successful. The value system I was raised with dehumanized me to the point that I followed an order to travel nine thousand miles to participate in destroying another people. It’s incredible that I could do that, and without really thinking much about it. That’s why I wrote the book — to understand how it was so easy for me to do that.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Punch

In my family, as in many families, there is a moment we all remember but never speak about. It’s the moment in which my oldest brother went around the dining-room table and smashed every dinner plate, then tried to punch our father, who punched his firstborn son in the face.

The Winter Of My Discontent

January 10: My wife and I recently moved from suburban New Jersey back to the heart of New York’s Catskill Mountains: the town of Phoenicia. It’s difficult returning here in winter. Everyone we meet has a lost, distracted look, as if they’ve already watched their entire video collection twice and now spend their evenings staring up at the spot where two walls meet the ceiling.

Adopt A Bench

Not everyone can afford to adopt a Central Park bench and personalize it with a plaque, but it costs nothing to sit on one. My favorite bench, near Conservatory Water, is inscribed with “Tell Me Something You Promised You Wouldn’t Tell” and dedicated to a woman named Helen, who lived for nearly a century.

What If You Were Right?

Something like this can really mess you up, you know? You could spend quite a while feeling bad and acting worse. You could hitch up a train of bad poems and lost weekends and therapy sessions, and whoosh — there goes 1982.

Things

Before I fell in love with my husband, I fell in love with his mother’s china. It was a frigid February night, my second date with my husband-to-be, who’d asked me to a concert in New York City, an hour’s drive from Princeton, where I was a seventeen-year-old freshwoman (as we called it in those days) and he was a sophomore.

Fiction

In The Valley Of The Kings

I was eleven the summer the fire broke out. In the spring of 1967 my mother, my father, and I had moved to Umberland, Pennsylvania. An old miners’ neighborhood sprawled across the southern half of town, and its residents burned their garbage in a used-up strip mine, a pit of shale and sandstone scraped clean by bulldozers.

Readers Write
Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
The Cosmological Eye

Just as a piece of matter detaches itself from the sun to live as a wholly new creation so I have come to feel about my detachment from America. Once the separation is made a new orbit is established, and there is no turning back. For me the sun had ceased to exist; I had myself become a blazing sun.

A Classic from the Bookshelf ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

March 2013

Let me start with gratitude: The world is broken in ten thousand places. Can I be thankful for the brokenness? How else can I learn to love the broken world?

Musings From Our Founder ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

With the people, for the people, by the people — I crack up when I hear it. I say, with the handful, for the handful, by the handful, because that’s what really happens.

Fannie Lou Hamer

More Quotations ▸
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