Vanessa Manko is the author of the novel The Invention of Exile. Full Bio
Connecticut, 1913– 1920
He arrived in the United States in 1913 on a boat named Trieste. His face open, the brow smooth, eyes with the at once earnest, at once insecure gaze of hopeful, wanting youth. He began work fast. First at the Remington Arms Company, making ammunition for the Russian Imperial Army, rising up the ranks to become an inspector of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, and later working for the Hitchcock Gas Engine Company. In Bridgeport, Connecticut. His early mornings spent among the others. The hordes of men shuttling to and from factories in lines and masses of gray or black through the dim light of winter mornings and in the spring when the morning sun was like a secret, coy and sparkling, the water flashing on the sound.
They found each other, though. Through all of that, they, the Russians, found each other. They learned to spot each other through mannerisms, glances. This was later. In 1919. Then, the restrictions came at work and in the boardinghouse. More…
Matt Higgins is the author of Bird Dream: Adventures at the Extremes of Human Flight. Full Bio
Who are these that fly like a cloud . . . ? —Isaiah 60:8
SATURDAY, JULY 16, 2011
On the morning that would make him famous, mountains upon mountains stretched to the horizon, and the air at seven thousand feet above sea level came cool and thin. An occasional gust bent thick grass on the ledge around his black boots. And more than a mile below, in a plush green valley, sun caught the waters of the Walensee and warmed cobblestones in a distant Swiss village along the lakeshore. It was one of those glorious days. The view, the sun and wind on your cheeks, made you grateful just to be alive.
“What do you reckon, ten miles an hour?” one of his companions asked Jeb about the wind. “Twelve?” Jeb was Jeb Corliss, a thirty-five-year-old stuntman and BASE jumper from California—“BASE” being an acronym for “buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs),” the primary objects that practitioners leap from. Jeb had plunged from the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Falls, in Venezuela, and the Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; from countless mountainsides; and into a cave in Mexico more than a thousand feet deep. With a thousand jumps and counting, he was one of the leading lights in the most dangerous sport yet devised.
“More,” Jeb replied, not taking note of the scenery, his mouth hard-set, conveying the seriousness of what he was about to attempt.
Robert Timberg is the author of Blue-Eyed Boy: A Memoir. Full Bio
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL
Falling asleep is never a problem for me. Waking up always is. My first night in South Vietnam I was sitting on a hill, relieving myself in a jerry-built four-holer ingeniously fashioned of plywood and wire mesh to keep out flying insects that once inside quickly became shit-besotted dive-bombers. Down the hill, maybe three or four clicks distant, a firefight was raging. As I watched the crisscrossing tracers, I murmured, “This is one scary fucking place.” Then I headed for the tent that was my home until I could be transported to the outskirts of Chu Lai, where my battalion had already dug in. I lay down on a cot, fully dressed, the pop-pop-pop of small-arms fire buffeting my ears, the memory of intersecting tracers still claiming my mind’s eye. Scary, yes, but I was asleep in less than a minute. More…
François Furstenberg is the author of In the Name of the Father and When the United States Spoke French. Full Bio
STRANGE REUNIONS: AN INTRODUCTION
For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground, Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward. Job 5:6–7
Revolutionary sparks, set off by the great explosion in France, fly upward. Most fall in Europe. Some, carried west by the trade winds, fall in the Caribbean and set off dry kindling. Others land deep in the North American forests. A few, following the gentle breezes drifting along the American coast, float up the Delaware Bay to Philadelphia. More…
QUESTION: How do you feel about the fact that 91 percent of America’s seafood is coming from abroad?
ANSWER: Who’s the broad?
—Interview with Herb Slavin, Fulton Fish Market fishmonger
It is a particularly American contradiction that the thing we should be eating most is the thing most absent from our plates. More…
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. 1977, May 3, six thirty in the morning, no one knows anything but this innocuous fact: Lydia is late for breakfast. As always, next to her cereal bowl, her mother has placed a sharpened pencil and Lydia’s physics homework, six problems flagged with small ticks. Driving to work, Lydia’s father nudges the dial toward WXKP, Northwest Ohio’s Best News Source, vexed by the crackles of static. On the stairs, Lydia’s brother yawns, still twined in the tail end of his dream. And in her chair in the corner of the kitchen, Lydia’s sister hunches moon-eyed over her cornflakes, sucking them to pieces one by one, waiting for Lydia to appear. It’s she who says, at last, “Lydia’s taking a long time today.” More…