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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society



Higher Learning

From his perch on a low bleacher in the college auditorium, Seth watches the girls cluster together, some still in their graduation gowns, hair hanging down their backs or clamped to their scalps. One holds a bouquet of bluish roses. She has thin lips, but her limbs are long and tan. Her friend, thick in the middle, wears a red tube dress that hoists her breasts up, displaying them like jellied eggs on a platter.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Troubled Youth

A brief, wet spring gave way to a murderously hot summer. The days were as long as medieval dragons and even harder to kill. It was so hot the squirrels took off their jackets, dredged their slender bodies in cornmeal, and arranged themselves with pearl onions in buttered pans.


The Game

Football is arguably the country’s most popular spectator sport, producing highly paid professionals, luxurious stadiums, and college bowl games. But there are still places in the U.S. where football is reminiscent of another time.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Suburban Bitch Cruise

Virginia and I were in an English-literature class together during my senior year at the State University of New York at Albany. She wore black-rimmed “cafe girl” glasses and had one of those bright, pale faces that slips back and forth from plain to attractive. Altogether her style was a mixture of grunge and hippie, and I found Virginia sexy as hell. During the week that we covered James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, she and I united against the close-minded faction in class who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, comprehend how one man could love another. We chastised them on breaks and shouted them down during discussions. At the end of class one evening, Virginia discovered that I, too, liked getting high, and she smiled — her face alive with mischief — and counted off three words on her fingers: Suburban. Bitch. Cruise.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

These Dark Woods

When my son Tom was born, I was surprised that there was nothing physically wrong with him. I suppose this is the reaction of many first-time older parents. Proud and relieved to have a “normal” child, I had no aspirations for my son to become an artist or to graduate from Harvard or to conquer India. All I wanted for him was good health, sanity, and a shot at being whatever he desired to be.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Demagogue Days

This is the story of my descent into a modern sort of inferno, so I’m going to start the way Dante did back in the day. As our saga opens, I’m pushing forty, about halfway through my life’s journey. I’m not lost in a dark wood; I’m in Oregon, schlepping my suitcase through the Portland airport, where travelers are granted the foolish pleasure of free Internet access.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Wizard In The Closet

To Jerry, everything was potentially interesting. When parents say, “Pay attention,” they mean, “Know in advance when danger will occur” — which, of course, is impossible. But Jerry showed me how to pay attention; how to look and then say what I had seen, precisely, accurately, truly. Jerry embodied attentiveness. His gift to his students was to pass on this process of attending to the world.

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