We all drink dinosaur pee and breathe the same air as Julius Caesar, because Earth is a closed system. Tracy Frisch’s interview with Shanna Swan [“The Great Decline,” September 2022] didn’t address the elephant in the room: By dumping plastics everywhere, aren’t we guaranteeing not only human sterility, but also a sterile planet? Even if corporate greed were somehow overcome and we phased out known endocrine disruptors, we’d still be left with billions of tons of plastic everywhere, relentlessly breaking down. How can any organism survive in this toxic stew?
I am relieved to learn about the decline in human fertility that Shanna Swan describes. I’ve long felt humans have overstepped our boundaries on Earth, and a 50 percent decline in fertility over the last fifty years is a shift toward balance. Why would we want to continue increasing the population of the species that has caused so much pain to Earth’s other residents?
I frequently feel drained by social functions, and in the past I turned to alcohol for support. In my thirties I was tagged as an indisputable introvert by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test. It was a relief to understand myself more fully. I still envy extroverts, who always seem to have a better time at parties than me, but I can join them on my terms and depart when I feel that it’s time to go. I’m OK with that now.
But John Paul Scotto’s essay “Hey, Man” [September 2022] made me consider that the source of my social unease may lie deeper than my personality type. I recognized a lot of myself in his experience. At seventy years old I am surprised to think that I might be on the autism spectrum.
Steve Edwards’s essay “Luminescence” [September 2022] made me think of my grandma. The last time I saw her she had a broken hip and advanced dementia. It was like a stranger had taken over her body. She was no longer the grandma who used to play cards with my siblings and me, knit me sweaters, and feed the barn cats even though she was afraid of them. After she died, I didn’t wish to have her back alive, but I would have given anything to see her again as she was when she was younger. I guess one price of getting older is losing the people who meant the world to you as a child.
I made copies of Mark Leviton’s interview with Richard Albert [“Made to Be Broken,” August 2022] and shared it with other prisoners, because it was so informative about the U.S. Constitution. I wish, however, that the interview had more thoroughly discussed the Thirteenth Amendment, which includes a provision allowing for slavery as a form of punishment. Because of this provision, prisoners in the United States can be worked on chain gangs or in other prison industries for pennies an hour. It is a sort of physician-heal-thyself hypocrisy when we criticize other countries, such as China, for their use of slave labor when we do the same.
Gary Percesepe’s essay “Some Notes on Fathers and Sons” [August 2022] is so beautifully written, it left me on the verge of tears.
I, too, am the product of a father who didn’t talk much. He worked two jobs: one as a firefighter (which was not common for African Americans in those days), and the other as a truck driver. The one thing I’m certain of is that he loved me. Though he’s been dead twenty years, I think of him and miss him every day.
I didn’t want Becky Mandelbaum’s short story “Emotional Morons” [July 2022] to end. The author has a gift for capturing the thoughts that go through people’s minds, and I related to each of the characters. Writing like hers makes me feel we are all connected.
I was taken by Michael Torres’s “Essays for My Daughter” [June 2022]. The author’s creative approach to the timeline and controlled release of information let me feel the heartbreak and emotional confusion of both the young girl and her father. This piece will stay with me for a long time.
A letter in your May 2022 Correspondence section complained about the heaviness of many pieces in The Sun. I think of that comment often as I fall in love with every solemn story in your magazine. Our world is troubled. People are struggling. Yet Sun writers are able to distill all that sadness into something beautiful.
My dad would have been a disciple of Rule 4 of Anne Lamott’s five rules of universal agreement: “It helps beyond words to plant bulbs in the dark of winter” [“Market Street,” The Dog-Eared Page, April 2022]. One fall my dad planted tulip bulbs and said, “I probably won’t live to see them bloom.” As usual, he was right.
To honor my dad’s love of gardening, I drove 175 miles to his grave site after work one day in the fall following his death. It was twilight when I arrived. In the company of sentinel pines, overseen by a sliver of moon, I planted several dozen crocus bulbs around his grave. Although he wouldn’t see them bloom, come spring I knew he’d feel their presence and the love with which they were planted.
I was moved by Alison Luterman’s essay “Hard Times” [April 2022], especially when she explained that writing is “not about having an elegant vocabulary, or even a gift for imagery. It’s a primal scream followed by an ice-cold shower when it comes time to edit, and you have to look at all your entrails splattered on the page and make dispassionate decisions like a surgeon in a triage tent.” Her description is spot on and so graphically and beautifully rendered, I will remember it for a long time.
With each issue of The Sun, I am reminded of humanity’s interconnectedness. I eagerly read the essay “Ocean City” by Mark Brazaitis [March 2022], as I’ve visited Ocean City many times. I became increasingly tense and even nauseated reading about how Brazaitis narrowly escaped a sexual predator, which reminded me of my own experience with sexual abuse.
Likewise I was brought to tears by Teetle Clawson’s essay “Culled” [March 2022]. When Clawson walked into her house and her dog did not greet her, I knew she was about to discover the body of her husband, because my dog acted the same way in a similar situation.
I am grateful to Sun writers for sharing their lives and for reminding readers that we are not alone in trauma.
Your March 2022 cover is one of the most stunning you’ve ever published. The composition, angle, and sheer beauty of Jon Kral’s photo are breathtaking.
I discovered The Sun in 2001 while looking for connection and meaning during my divorce. I started a Sun reading group and found that it helped me connect with people. Since then I have faced many other hard times, the most significant being the death of my twenty-two-year-old son, Alek.
In my extreme grief I stopped reading, writing, and listening to music, but I kept my subscription to The Sun. Now, three years later, I am starting to make my way through the issues that have piled up. When I read Sparrow’s essay about his mother’s death [“The Loss,” January 2021], I felt that sense of connection that I’d initially sought in The Sun.
Sparrow nails grief when he writes, “Sadness has a dimension, like length, width, and depth. A particular sadness can be miles and miles long.” Though the dimensions of my grief seem boundless, Sparrow’s words give me comfort.
I have long been grateful to The Sun for publishing authors and photographers whose work entertains, educates, and inspires me, but only recently have I realized how much I enjoy the letters in your Correspondence section. They often lead me back to past issues and help me remember and appreciate anew everything your magazine brings me each month.