Skip to main content

Essays

On Faith and Hope

December 3, 2020

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “that perches in the soul.” The avian image is both lovely and apposite, for as a bird goes winging off at the first loud noise or sight of a predator, so hope—an aspect of desire, a wish that something, and usually something good, will happen—typically flies out the window as often as it lands on one’s shoulder. If something isn’t outright impossible, it’s possible to hope for it, though the likelihood of its happening lessens the closer to impossible it comes: living to one hundred, let’s say, following a life of three packs of smokes and a porterhouse every day.

Frantumaglia

December 3, 2020

Elena Ferrante’s Blurred Lines

Attending

December 3, 2020

I can’t tell you why I rented the theater downtown, other than that it was inevitable, like the notes of a song. Facing the rows of empty velvet seats, I felt the thrust of potential. At night, doctors stood on stage telling stories—not of helicopter rides and loss of blood, but of waffling, of wanting, of grappling with themselves. The audience arrived like spirits, craving not entertainment but something more fundamental and urgent. I sat backstage, eyes closed, living and dying in every pause, every ripple of laughter. This—a live storytelling event by those in health care, for those in health care—was the first thing I had ever originated, one that came from the roiling place inside of me and not a script.

 

Photo by Sonnet Mondal

In the Underwater World of 2050

December 3, 2020

 1.In Kolkata, on Banamali Sarkar Street, I am a bewildered and ignorant tourist, just as I have been throughout my life, eavesdropping on people’s lives and conversations, jotting down notes, folding thoughts into whatever pattern I can make [...]

Notes on a Ghost Town

December 3, 2020

 1.I made plans to move to Southern Illinois from Chicago in the summer, when people told me it would be drippingly humid, figuring I’d get the worst season of the year out of the way first. Baptism by summer. In the more temperate fall, I’d [...]

A Taxonomy of Mask Cheats

September 8, 2020

The face mask, that simple piece of cloth, has become fraught territory. Over the summer, Americans began reading the use or absence of a mask as a political statement, a commentary on individual freedom, an invitation to a fight. Our president and his cadre were agonizingly slow to wear them, often casting the mask as a sign of weakness. Their bare faces have come to symbolize the administration’s negligence and denial.

Pages