Issue 476 | The Sun Magazine

August 2015

Readers Write


Breast-feeding, skinny-dipping, and Christmas shopping

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

Bullet In The Brain

After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lightning that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes.”

By Tobias Wolff


Life, the permission to know death.

Djuna Barnes

The Sun Interview

As We Lay Dying

Stephen Jenkinson On How We Deny Our Mortality

At every deathbed and hospital room, I didn’t see sane dying. I saw sedated dying, depressed dying, isolated dying, utterly disembodied dying. Sane dying would require a childhood steeped in death’s presence, an adulthood employed in its service, and an elderhood testifying to its necessity. Sane dying is a village-making event: lots of people with plenty to do, the whole production endorsing life.

By Erik Hoffner
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Substantial Dark

No one, I read online, understands why Parkinson’s causes dopamine-producing cells to die off in a region of the brain called the “substantia nigra.” With my limited knowledge of Latin I translated this as the “substantial dark” — a place in my mother’s head where words such as eyebrow, sink, and broccoli had disappeared.

By Lynne Knight
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Proper Funeral

Here’s a surprise: it turns out you can’t just walk into the assisted-living facility where your mother spent her final years, wrap her dead body in a sheet, and take her out into the woods to bury her.

By Kim Addonizio
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

When No One Is Watching

I’ve come to love this island. Hawaii has mostly been subdued by human habitation, but there are still pockets of wilderness, like this one. A trail from our land leads to where I’m sitting on a tablecloth beside the stream with my laptop. When I look at my computer screen, I see my reflection, in which my bald head is hidden by a scarf. I’ve had no hair for six months now, a constant reminder that I have breast cancer.

By Eva Saulitis
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Creature Comforts

Taking care of my aging parents is the right thing to do. I don’t regret the decision. But when I came here in 2010, I never imagined that I’d have to stay nearly five years. I’m afraid that, on my mother’s ninety-seventh birthday, I’ll be saying that I never imagined I’d have to stay seven years.

By Gillian Kendall

You Really Have To Stop The Killing

“Look, I’m not trying to be the ‘administrator’ here,” he says. He tells me that a student of mine has complained. This student felt uncomfortable with last week’s homework assignment: Attend a stranger’s funeral.

By Johannes Lichtman

Message To A Former Friend

I just wanted to write and say, / in case you are hit tomorrow by a truck / or are swept from the beach by a freak wave

By Tony Hoagland


I need a hug from you, from behind, as I’m standing at the kitchen window, washing dishes and looking at the one pink-flowering branch left on the peach tree.

By Alison Luterman


The optometrist says my eyes / are getting better each year. / Soon he’ll have to lower my prescription. / What’s next? The light step I had at six?

By Danusha Laméris