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The Sun Magazine

Religion and Philosophy




When her father died five years ago, Alice had a dream that gave her a great deal of comfort. Her father was sitting at the end of the bar in MacDonald’s — where the owner later put up a little brass plaque with his name on it — and Alice came in and tugged at his sweater to ask him for nickels for the pinball machine. In the dream she was still her age, sixty-two, but at the same time she was somehow a little girl. Her father gave her a roll of nickels and smiled at her, and as she watched he began taking off his clothes. He removed his button-down sweater, the yellow golfing shirt and the blue-and-white striped trousers, and when he’d taken off his boxer shorts he peeled out of his skin. Underneath there was nothing — nothing, at least, that corresponded to bones or organs — just a series of quick sparks, like someone’s lighter that wouldn’t quite work. That was her father now, and as she watched him leave the shell of his body behind — somehow it had taken on the colors of his clothes, so that it looked like a deflated beach ball there on the cracked leather stool — Alice saw that death was no big deal.



There was a turtle named Arnold who went to college. He studied carrying heavy loads and going without water. He graduated with honors as a camel.

Readers Write

When We Die

When we die we go to sleep. We awake in Paradise. In Paradise, no one wears clothes and everyone is very polite. Tiny condiments are served on trays. A small but precise string orchestra plays. One sees many old friends. All of them look well: youngish, but stately. The couples seem at peace, and the single people are radiant.

The Sun Interview

Cosmic Blues

A Reluctant Interview With Emmanuel

We’re driving north, through Virginia, Jon at the wheel. I feel groggy and restless. What am I doing here, anyway, I ask myself — all day on the road to interview a ghost? This SUN interviewer role is definitely wearing thin. I switch on the tape deck and turn it up loud. Springsteen sings a gravelly song of working-man struggle, and joining in I start to relax.


The Party At The End

I explained: “There was a bright flash of light, the most beautiful thing you ever saw. Then came a wave of heat. It was so painful it was almost luxuriant. Then I began to feel myself melt. And then . . . then I was preparing for this party.”


Ca Dao Vietnam

Vietnamese Folk Poetry

These poems are from a beautiful book called Ca Dao Vietnam , edited and translated by John Balaba…


The Man In The Control Booth

Wycke, I knew, had thought of his eyes as prisms, capable of seeing many points of view at once. They sat in deep dark sockets, alert, cautious, and ever vulnerable, like two small animals uneasy in their burrows. When the phone awakened us in the middle of the night, and I heard my mother whisk across the hall past my bedroom, pick up the receiver, pause, then scream to my father, “Oh, honey, Wycke’s been in an automobile accident and he’s been killed!”, it was those eyes I thought of first.



She grew up and retreated into a tower, where she lived for 20 years. No one understood this. Her friends thought perhaps she’d gone mad. When she emerged, she could fly. Everyone was very impressed, watching her fly over the sea.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories


Cholestiatoma is a loving beast; as with other cancers, he comes like a string around the finger, a chain around the throat, to insure that we do not idly forget why we are here. Cholestiatoma (Chole when masculine, Choleste when feminine) lives in my skull between the meningies and the right orbit. He sleeps on my optic nerve, is not always gracious; by sleeping too much and over indulgence in the proliferation of his own being he causes eye strain. I want to close my eye and rest. I want him off! I cry intently. May this beast be gone. I pray softly. But Chole that gluttonous fellow, Choleste that lascivious creature is here for a reason: to guide me, to help me transcend the bodily throes, and learn: there is no sidestepping life. You either deal with your stuff now or you deal with it later. It’s hard. It hurts. But there is no getting around it. You might as well get on with it. I thank you two.