Issue 290 | The Sun Magazine

February 2000

Readers Write

Strange Places

A toilet paper roll, a tiny red metal bicycle, an out-of-body experience

By Our Readers
Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2000

My lament is the same lament. My wife is sympathetic, but she’s heard it all before. Even the beautiful English language shakes her head when she sees me coming. Him again, she thinks, with his fifty synonyms for sadness.

By Sy Safransky


If, every day, I dare to remember that I am here on loan, that this house, this hillside, these minutes, are all leased to me, not given, I will never despair. Despair is for those who expect to live forever. I no longer do.

Erica Jong

The Sun Interview

In A Broken World

Scott Russell Sanders On Resisting Despair

When I feel so much grief over the woundedness and brokenness of the world that I lose the power or the desire to go on, I turn to members of my family for consolation. Another thing that moves me out of a state of grief is beauty, in all its forms: in nature, in the face of someone you love, in music, in language, in scientific formulas, and in images of remote constellations beamed down from the Hubble space telescope. Beauty reminds me that all the grief, all the loss, all the sadness that is terribly meaningful to me, personally, is just a dust mote in the grand scheme of things. It’s tiny, ephemeral.

By Renee Lertzman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Body Bright

No matter how much we camouflage or medicate them, our bodies remain wild, bright sparks from the great encompassing wildness, perfectly made for savoring and exploring this sensuous planet; and that is a source of hope.

By Scott Russell Sanders
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Leaving The West

The first time I hear the voice is in the fall, when the larch trees have just begun to change color. I’m driving out of Washington’s Blue Mountains along Cloverland Road just above the Snake River. Cloverland is a series of hair-pin turns and S curves bordered by a sheer drop into a canyon full of snakes, sage, and yellow star thistle.

By Stephen J. Lyons
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


This is what my mother, in the end, couldn’t bear: the forward rush of possibility, the hum of new life buzzing in the air as winter opens to spring. Surrounded by such sweet promise, she felt as empty as a footprint pressed in dried mud.

By Esther Ehrlich
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Heaven And Earth

A few years after my arrival, I move with my husband to Koreatown, a colorful neighborhood where our jewel of an apartment gleams quietly amid a cacophonous welter of Salvadoran taco vendors, alley-cruising crack-heads, and ambulance sirens wailing the news that yet another Seoul-trained driver has merrily run a red light.

By Heather King

Free Spirits

I have been waiting for the voices, for the vague, disarming incoherence of psychosis, for evidence, substantiation, beyond my crooked teeth and lazy eye, that I am indeed my father’s son.

By Alex Mindt

Photographs By Vincent Cianni

Since 1994, I have been photographing the landscape and inhabitants of the Southside, a Latino neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I began by making portraits of teenagers playing handball and basketball in the schoolyards. I was drawn to the mixture of arrogance and vulnerability in their faces, the naiveté and feigned maturity of their posturing.

By Vincent Cianni

Talking To Trees

A doctor, so angry at the inconvenience of being called in to suture a suicidal prisoner’s wrists, said, “I’ll make sure he doesn’t do that again,” and sewed him up without anesthetic. That doctor was employed by the state to cut medical costs. He still is.

By Scott Withiam

Her, Rising

Yes, there are the memories / like little phylacteries strapped to our minds, / and there are the ways we know our dead / have worked inside us

By Veneta Masson