In January of 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became a pen pal to Elmo Patrick Sonnier, a death-row inmate who had been convicted, with his brother, of abducting a teen-age couple from a lover’s lane, raping the woman, and shooting her and her partner in the back of the head... When the date for his execution is set, Sister Helen agrees to become his spiritual advisor. She convinces lawyers to take his case, and meets the parents of his victims, who are eager to see the murderer of their children pay the ultimate price of “justice.”
“Speak Truth to Power” at Longreads
The first time I admit in public to having been kidnapped and raped by a man I used to live with, I am at a nonfiction reading at the university where I work…. One reader goes before me, but I don’t hear a word he says. My hands shake as I hold the book I will read from—still only a galley copy then. My legs nearly buckle underneath me as I stand from my chair. My armpits swim. Bile burns the base of my esophagus. The blood rising to my face tells me that what I am about to do is shameful, embarrassing, wrong. But for 14 years, I have kept a silence. Today I want to break it.
"When We Were Animals" at The Normal School
"There was a time when we lived in a place that was green and alive, where trees grew together in clusters we called forests, where we grew food we could eat right from the soil, where we could swim in the creeks after working in the fields and the water felt clean and cold. We could swim in the rivers, too, protected only by our own skin, and in the lakes we could catch fish that we might cook over an open fire after the sun had set. We would gather logs for this from the forest floor, rub two sticks together until they smoked and then with our breath or a bit of wind, they would catch a flame and burn..."
"It's the DACA Decision, Not Hurricane Harvey, That May Tear Houston Apart" at The New York Times
"HOUSTON — As the floodwaters rose in my west Houston neighborhood after Hurricane Harvey landed, my husband and many of our neighbors pulled boats through waist-high water, knocked on doors and plucked people from their submerged houses. They rescued elderly couples, young roommates, families who do not speak English. There was no checking of IDs, no debate on whether a life was worth saving..."
"The Fallout" at Guernica
"Dawn Chapman first noticed the smell on Halloween in 2012, when she was out trick-or-treating with her three young children in her neighborhood of Maryland Heights, Missouri, a small suburb of St. Louis. By Thanksgiving, it was a stench—a mixture of petroleum fumes, skunk spray, electrical fire, and dead bodies—reaching the airport, the ballpark, the strip mall where Dawn bought her groceries. Dawn could smell the odor every time she got in her car, and then, by Christmas, she couldn’t not smell it. In January, the stench hung in the air inside her home when Dawn woke her children for school every morning. “That was the last straw,” she told me recently..."
"Art in The Age of Apocalypses" at Tin House's The Open Bar
"Lately I have been thinking about what it means to be an artist, and what kinds of responsibilities an artist has to this world in which we live. I have been unable to write for months now, which means I have had a lot of time for thinking. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t slept. I cannot, not with everything I love being destroyed while I lay like a plank in my own bed. Sometimes it seems I may never eat or sleep again..."
"On Mercy" at Guernica
“Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.”
—Robert Frost, A Masque of Mercy
"The sight of the children rattles me every time. They sit around a tiny table in a too-small classroom, the walls stacked high with textbooks and technologies they will never use. The frailest ones wear hospital blankets draped over their shoulders. IV trolleys trail and beep behind them. Chest catheters peek out from under their clothes. One of the older girls wears a loose hijab..."
"Jon Krakauer takes on 'Missoula' in timely study of campus rape" in The Los Angeles Times
"Jon Krakauer has made a career of crafting narratives from investigations into destructive impulses. Well known in the United States and abroad as the author of the 1996 bestseller "Into the Wild" — which explored the disturbing circumstances surrounding the death of Chris McCandless, a 24-year-old from a wealthy East Coast family whose remains were found by a moose hunter in the Alaskan wilderness — Krakauer established himself early on as a master of blending meticulous observation with careful research and stark, compelling storytelling...