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Shades of Gloom

March 2, 2020

We’re a worried bunch, we Americans. We’re anxious. We’re gloomy, even doomy. We’re angsty, despairing, depressed. There’s a widespread sense that things are certainly not right with the world, and perhaps not right with us. If Dickens were with us, he might call it the most uncool of times.

Illustration by Jen Renninger

No End in Sight

March 2, 2020

What happens when immigrant-rights advocates reach a breaking point?

<i>Mullus Surmuletus, The Striped Surmulet</i>. (Courtesy Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library, Digital Collections.)

The Grand Temptation

March 2, 2020

Maybe Cape Cod is fertile ground for existential transformation. Something about the metals in its sandy soil catalyzing metaphysical shifts—I don’t know. All I know is I had my entire worldview rearranged when I was visiting its shores.

Illustration by Jon Krause

June 25

Then twelve months passed and once again: the company picnic. A day greeted with joy, with dread, with stoic indifference, depending on who you were. 

Illustration by Chloe Scheffe

An Invocation of the Big-Eared Runt

The first time he appeared to Pablo was on the bus during the nine-thirty tour. It happened during a pause in the narration while they rode from the restaurant that had belonged to Emilia Basil (the dismemberer) to the building where Yiya Murano (the poisoner) had lived. 

My Tears See More Than My Eyes: My Son’s Depression and the Power of Art

We parents signed in and entered the waiting area of the boys’ ward that doubled as a family room during visiting hours. We migrated to the far corners of the room, as far away as possible from one another, as if afraid of contagion. Maybe it was easier that way for us to think, “My kid is different from theirs; he isn’t really fucked up or suicidal, or violent; he’s just going through a rough patch, a phase.” We sat in silence, waiting for our sons; under bright fluorescent lighting that gave us all a sickly pallor, we looked anywhere but at each other; we looked at the rubber furniture, the grimly cheerful yellow walls, the message boards here and there scribbled over with institutional graffiti: goals for the day, prayers, bromides, warnings, rules. We were seeking some measure of privacy in a room whose every feature declared No Privacy Allowed.