Memoir

Take It or Leave It

The day my aunt Susan and I went to clean out my dead father’s house I woke up with a hangover that was worse than the one I had during my grandmother’s funeral, but not as…

Home Security

Watching TV one afternoon, Audrey and I were startled by a loud crack, like someone slapping the side of our house with a sheet of plywood, immediately followed by a motorcycle roaring away. Audrey got up…

Inches

You’d have to know exactly where to look on the field to spot me. Not only did I keep my helmet on, but I knew where to hide from spectators. I had no other choice; my…

Right Little Shits

You might think you can’t tell a story that you don’t remember. But you can. Monday October 12, 2012. Odd day as I woke up in hospital. Memory lapse. Rob’s MS not a shock. Jane came.…

Vacation Rental By Owner

To help pay for life after graduate school, I listed my old house on a vacation rental website. It had rented to the same tenants for the eight years I was away, a fussy Republican couple…

Welcome to Venice Beach

Monday morning, I’m pulling a trailer containing a four-year-old girl, en route to preschool, both of us coming off a half-decade in the Middle East, and I’m feeling a little shaky about how things are going, wondering how it is…

Sweet Breath

She was standing on my doorstep when I first met her. It was fall 2006. I’d just moved to Brooklyn and was living in a tiny one-bedroom with a friend-turned-boyfriend, the only person I knew when…

A Family of Acrobats

My grandfather could walk down the stairs on his hands. My mother and aunts could do cartwheels on the front lawn, and my mother once walked across the high school gym floor on her hands. My…

Smart

1. Where words come from On the day photographers come to visit, I am sitting in Mrs. Isaacs’s first grade class in Lynch, in Harlan County, Eastern Kentucky. I am five years old, but I have…

Grace or Something Like It

Again. It’s 5:33 in the morning and in the dark you feel your wife lean up. “All right,” she says, “I know you aren’t bad. I think you’re just checking on us, checking us out. But…

Impossible Rooms

My son is two years old now. When people ask me what he’s like, I say he’s like his mother: happy, unafraid. He’s receptive to the world, and trusting of it. That’s not the way I…

The N Train

The first porno magazine I ever bought was called Black and Busty. One Wednesday after school, Andrew Amato and Michael Marciano sent me into the Optimo on Bay Parkway with ten dollars and told me to…

Thirteen

I never wanted hands like my mother’s. I used to stare at them resting on the steering wheel every morning as she drove me to school. I can picture it now: Howard Stern is on the…

A Casualty of Place

In 2000 I’m new at the record store. Videocassettes are viable items. DVDs are just becoming affordable. Our DVD section amounts to a few titles in a handmade, wooden end cap. The end cap, like most…

Pornography’s Pupil

When you’re nine, ten, eleven, and twelve back in Joliet, Illinois, the City of Stone and Steel left largely rusted by deindustrialization and divided by a sanitary canal that flows from Chicago and smells like metal…

Saphir’s Room

Our family moved to Budapest, Hungary in the spring of 1998. We had moved around in Asia many times before—Seoul, Singapore, Beijing. But this was our first time in Europe. Hungary was struggling then to shed…