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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Piano Player Enters The Room

Chick Chom Tang and I are very much alike: childless, suburban-bred, TV-culture baby boomers who somehow missed the boat on the Promises of Youth. Neither of us has ever come close to marriage. Both of us have been poor (by American standards) all our adult lives. As solid and supportive as our families have been, they probably still regard us as disappointments, difficult to explain in the annual Christmas letter, the funny uncles in the family tree. We console each other in weekly beer-drinking sessions, telling fond tales of childhood and ancient female conquest. The strong difference between us is that, while I try to be realistic about my circumstances, Chick believes his life has not yet begun.

Before And After

Every day of the month before I committed suicide, I listened to Pink Floyd’s The Wall and was perfectly happy. It focused the mind wonderfully to know that, barring a miracle, in four weeks, then three, then two, I would no longer exist. 

The Life And Times Of A Minor Western Writer

For almost a month now I’ve been trying to collect the fifty-five dollars that a national environmental magazine owes me for a four-hundred-word book review. That’s two twenties, a ten, and a five. Three polite e-mails have yielded the following responses: “Thanks for reminding me. I’ll look into it.” And “Great to hear from you and thanks for reminding me. For some reason I forgot about your earlier note. By the way, could you write another review for us? Deadline October 1. Same terms.”

The Madman

When I was a child, we had no running water in our homes, electricity was unheard of, and our toilets were holes in the ground way out in a field. It was a time of flickering candles, sooty kerosene lamps, and rusty tin lanterns. The nights seemed excruciatingly long, because they were so dimly lit and full of shadows. The fickle lights inside the house were never bright enough for me to feel safe, and the dark outside was filled with hooting and howling and the sound of stones crunching under the paws of foul-smelling hyenas.

Not At This Address

My mother, my uncle tells me, has lost her wits. She lets a group of neighborhood kids into her house. They steal from her. Worse yet, she gives them money. Blank checks. She signs the checks, and these kids fill in whatever amounts they want. “They’re robbing her,” he says, “robbing her blind.”

A View Of The Lake

The lakes of northern Michigan were mysterious to me when I was growing up. There was always at least one undeveloped side and a few swampy coves on each. I saw the trees on the lake’s edge as the border
to an endless forest full of bears and big cats. My grandmother told me stories of seasonal Indian encampments in Six Lakes, where she grew up. In my daydreams, the red man was still living in the wilderness.


An Omelet For Louie

I don’t know why certain faces are magical for me, why a particular set of features should seize me with the conviction that all of love and meaning can be found in the way an eyebrow lifts, or the way the corner of a mouth tucks in to suggest a smile. But Louie’s face always seemed like such a miracle. I could trace her cheekbones in the dark and believe I had been born for that simple act of appreciation; I could see the way her gray eyes picked up colors from her surroundings and feel secure in their beauty. I loved the smooth fullness of her skin; I loved her copper hair with its subtle, glinting reds; I loved her voice’s musical play and her high laugh.

Readers Write


When I dropped out of college at the end of my first year, my dad told me I’d better go to secretarial school, learn some “skills,” and get a job. I did as he said, even though I didn’t want to be a secretary. This is how it is with us underachievers. We want so much and end up doing so little.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go into the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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