“Men in Power and The Lies They Tell” at Literary Hub

My mother likes to remind me that when I was a child I lied. I lied about my name when I introduced myself to total strangers. I lied about my age. I used a fake ID in high school and college, though she doesn’t know about that. I don’t think she knows that I used to tell my classmates I had been adopted, that my dad was a spy. I told a girl at church camp that I had a younger brother who died. I lied because I thought these lies made me interesting.


“Is Masculinity a Terrorist Ideology?” at Literary Hub

A few weeks ago, on a night when my husband was putting our children to bed, I came across a news headline announcing that a local man had pleaded guilty to murdering his wife and cremating her on a pyre he made from 100 pounds of charcoal. He collected her ashes and left them in a plastic bag on the curb, the story claimed, but when the trash collectors left it behind, he took the bag to work and disposed of it there. The district attorney called the details of the case “disturbing,” especially because there was no history of domestic violence at the home. At least, there was no public record of such a history.


“On Likability” at Tin House

My daughter comes home from school at least once a week and announces to me that no one likes her. She has done something that is too weird, or bold, or has said a thing with which others disagree. She has had to sit alone during lunch or play alone during recess. She even sat on the buddy bench, she tells me, and no one came. At the moment she says or does the weird bold thing, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks or whether they agree or disagree. It’s only afterward, after she has felt shunned, ostracized, and completely alone with her decision that she begins to question it.


“I Want a Reckoning” at the Paris Review

Usually it is a woman who asks the question—always the same question. She sits near the door in the last row of the auditorium, where I have spent the last hour talking about what it means to have been kidnapped and raped by a man I loved, a man with whom I lived. He was a man who, even before the kidnapping, had already violated me in every way you might imagine, especially a man like him. Someone else in the audience asks what happened to the man who did this to me, and I explain how he got away, how he is a fugitive living in Venezuela, raising a new family. This is not the ending anyone expects.


“Will of the Water: Scenes from Hurricane Harvey” at Virginia Quarterly Review

For three days and three nights, the rain falls in sheets, in swirls. It falls in gentle showers and falls sideways and is dumped like a bucket all at once. Tornados spin overhead as thunder and lightning rattle the walls and the roof, and families gather in their closets, squeeze together in the bathtub, pull mattresses over their heads.


“‘Dead Man Walking,’ Revisited: A Prophetic Argument Against Capital Punishment” at The New Yorker

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.”

Screen Shot 2018-09-24 at 10.37.35 PM.png

“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..."

Image credit: Christopher Lee for The New York Times

Image credit: Christopher Lee for The New York Times

"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...