TheLastWord

Valiant Efforts

That winter the Plymouth Valiant supplanted the boat-like wagon we’d always used for the ride to Mass. The reasons were unclear. Maybe it got better mileage. Maybe...

Lanced

Ah, 1999—those were the days. It was summertime and we were in Holland for our annual visit with my wife’s family. Normally I didn’t spend a lot of time with the...

Baby Steps

My fifteen-month-old son’s favorite game is “run into Mommy’s room and grab things out of her nightstand before she catches me.” As soon as I set him on his feet at...

License to Fret

For several nights in July, the thrilling, testosterone-laden notes of the James Bond theme music filled our family room, as my husband and I and whichever of our...

Until Daybreak

In the days leading up to last year’s Hurricane Irene, media coverage was relentless and shrill: Irene, we were told, had the potential to be the storm of the...

The Burial

There’s nothing quite like watching what used to be your brother being lowered into a hole in the Illinois earth to remind you that every moment is a universe far...

Estate Sale

The first humiliation is waiting in line on the brick walkway, which is bordered in boxwood and leads up a few steps between pillars to the open front door. This is...

Starting Over

I’m a recession story, or at least I was. In 2008 I lost my job, in 2009 my apartment. I spent nineteen months off the economic radar. As an unemployed office...

A Fuller Life

To my friends and colleagues at the college where I teach, I’m the Wrong-Way Corrigan of the twenty-first century. Seven years ago, at the age of fifty-three, I...

Unquarantined Grief

If a novelist were to have his protagonist reading Camus’ The Plague mere hours before learning that his wife has cancer, the irony would be cheap, a postmodernist...

Bad Samaritan

In June 2010, I made a stop in Boston to meet a friend for lunch. We had planned to eat at a swanky bistro with a view of the Atlantic and, in the distance, planes...

Baby on Board

I went to a baptism the other day, in a lovely old empty church. It was one of those brilliant afternoons when the sunlight coming in through the old mullioned...
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