Issue 438 | The Sun Magazine

June 2012

Readers Write

Good Advice

The Tooth Fairy, a vibrator, a fiftieth wedding anniversary

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
Happiness Revisited

The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.

By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi


The primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid: the state of being alone.

James Baldwin

The Sun Interview

Water, Water Everywhere

Ran Ortner’s Love Affair With The Sea

If I could convey the ocean’s paradoxes, its ferocity and tenderness, in the same image, I could possibly awaken the viewer to a place where language drops away. By setting these massive, lush paintings in the artificial environment of the contemporary gallery, I intend to make it feel astonishing, to have an impact so immediate that it becomes what Kafka called an “ax for the frozen sea inside us.”

By Ariane Conrad
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Unspeakable Things Between Our Bellies

I don’t identify with most other mothers — the conversations about clothes and music lessons and camps and milestones in development. The only mothers I truly feel OK around are the ones whose kids have something different about them. Something odd. Or wrong. Or worse.

By Lidia Yuknavitch
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Free Rent At The Totalitarian Hotel

I lived downtown in an apartment complex that, for its Second Empire facade, transient tenantry, and despotic manager, I had dubbed the “Totalitarian Hotel.” The manager, Mrs. Vollstanger, was a gouty old Prussian and always wore pearls and thick, embroidered white sweaters.

By Poe Ballantine
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Citizens Of The Dream

You might very well be lazy, afraid of failure, and undisciplined and still write. You might lack the urge and still write. You might not be “a writer” and still write. . . . You are both obliged to develop your talent and free not to develop it. That is, you are free to acknowledge obligations but still say no to them.

By Cary Tennis

On The Verge Of Extinction

From ten Saturday morning — when your father picks you up at the house you don’t want to live in, your mother’s boyfriend’s house — to eight Sunday night, when your mother retrieves you from the house you never wanted to leave but are now allowed to visit only twice a month, you have thirty-four hours for your father to prove to you that he’s not the man your mother says he is.

By Kelly DeLong

Mr. Oleander

“Your move,” said Avior. “What will you do? How will you explain the pawns who are no longer powerless? There are so many. We have strength in numbers. We have power, you know. It is a capital mistake to think that small things do not have power.”

By Brian Doyle

St. Sebastian

First baseman / for the King James Bible Martyrs, / my favorite guy / in the whole New Testament, / all those arrows sticking out of him / like a pincushion.

By Tony Hoagland

Small-Town Autumn

Spilt dusk light on the river, / silver as mercury.

By Donna Steiner

Because These Failures Are My Job

This morning I failed to notice the pearl-gray moment / just before sunrise when everything lightens

By Alison Luterman