Andrea Doria

BY LESLIE ARMSTRONG

Andrea Doria (1456 to 1560) was born in Oneglia, west of Genoa. He was orphaned at a young age and became a soldier of fortune. In 1503 he served in the Genoese navy routing the French from Corsica. He spent the rest of his long life serving whoever paid well, commanding his galleys in warfare against the Turks and Barbary pirates and protecting the supremacy and independence of the principality of Genoa. He died a rich and revered man. Many Italian and US naval vessels have been named after him, the most famous of which was the passenger ship SS Andrea Doria, launched in June of 1951, maiden voyage January 1953.

The Day I Learned I Could No Longer Jump

BY JAY ARMSTRONG

Six months after being diagnosed with cerebellar degeneration, six months after a neurologist examined an MRI of my brain, leveled his eyes, cleared his throat and said to me, “you should be dead or in a hospital bed,” I’m staring at my physical therapist, Denise, and she’s daring me to jump.

“Jay, I want you to jump.”

“Like up and down?”

“Yes, like jump up and down.”

I smile and look around the St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center. There are three other patients in the activity center with me. Two women, both walking on a treadmill, and Bill, a former Navy captain, who is the proud owner of a new titanium hip. Bill is pedaling a stationary bike and, according to St. Lawrence lore, Bill has never smiled. Ever.

How to Promise

By Zach Semel

A few months after I get back from Europe, I’m in the back seat as my dad drives down East 72nd Street toward 2nd Avenue, luxurious building lobbies flashing by in golden blurs.

Thirteen floors up, we knock on their apartment door.  My heels tap anxiously on the hallway carpeting.  The door opens, letting out a dull glow.

“Hi, sweetie,” my grandma says, strained, wrapping me in a warm Columbia-sweatshirt hug.  I kiss her on the cheek.  We put our coats down in the corner.  The living room and dining room are one open space furnished with a long, maroon, leather couch and a wooden coffee table streaked to appear aged.

“How’s Grandpa?” I ask.

“He’s asleep,” she says.

Past the closed door of the quiet bedroom, the bathroom smells barren—no more of that familiar shaving-cream air.  As far as I’m concerned, his lifelong brand was classic Barbasol in the stubby navy-blue bottles—the ones you trip over in the street the day after Halloween.  He had always smelled like it, as if he had just gotten back from a 1980s barbershop.  But he doesn’t use that stuff anymore; my dad got him an electric razor because he’s been cutting his cheeks up so badly.  I see the shampoo he used to use, too—Pert, those bright green bottles like apple-scented cleaner.  The mirror seems dirty now, and they don’t keep many pills in the medicine cabinet, “or he’ll hide them.”

In all the stories I read about Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or whatever—the disease makes people forget these peripheral things.  Where they put the electricity bills, bank statements.  Where their favorite restaurant is.  Who their children are.  But what I was not prepared for was how he forgot how to take care of himself.

Book Review: Know My Name

By Rachel Zarrow

Know My Name by Chanel Miller (Viking, 2019) is the untold story of the person who the world came to know as Emily Doe, the victim of a widely reported 2015 sexual assault on Stanford’s campus. Though Know My Name is a memoir, the book is many other things—a victim’s manifesto, a story of love and loss, and a close examination of the broken systems that protect perpetrators and betray victims. Chanel Miller, the woman we meet in the pages of this book is many things too. She’s an activist, a victim, a writer, an artist, a comedian, a daughter, a sister,  a visionary, and more.

Tangible Things

By Marianne Rogoff

In the beginning all we owned was a deep hole that was bigger than both of us. On a clear morning we watched the small wood box get lowered and dirt from the hole thrown on top where it settled over days and weeks and then we returned with garden gloves and shovels to plant rosemary and lavender.

The first year we went there all the time and lounged on the ground as green grass also grew on top of what used to be the hole. We brought picnics, knelt in the grass, and felt close to Mystery, the name we had printed on a pink hand-painted tile marked with the date of her birth and her death, so close to each other. After bringing a small bag of cement and tools to mix and fix the tile in our amateur way, to lie flat on the earth, this object became the tangible thing we visited.

TCR Talks with Steve Almond

By: Kaia Gallagher Described by commentators as funny, big-hearted and joyfully obsessive, Steve Almond has been a newspaper reporter, an acclaimed writer of short stories, an essayist and the author of ten books over his twenty-year writing career. Almond’s published short story collections include My Life in Heavy Metal (2002), The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories (2005), God Bless America: Stories (2011), and Whits of Passion (2013). Many of his 150 short stories have been featured in Best American Short Stories, Best American Mysteries, the Pushcart Prize, and Best American Erotica.                 An…

The Promised Land

by: Scotte Burns

Sunshine changes the world under your nose. There’s one kind of smell from pavement right after it rains, and a slightly different one when the sun heats it to a muggy steam afterward. Freshly mowed grass becomes muskier under the sun’s blanket, pine forests sharper in its embrace. On a motorcycle, immersion in the land’s constantly changing hues, from roadside to horizon, is inevitably chased by these shifting aromas, the speed of light being a bit faster than the speed of smell. And so, as we dove and crested blue-line highways through the pillowy hills of Iowa farmland between Council Bluffs and Des Moines, clouds burned away from the face of the sun, encouraging freshly tilled fields, wildflowers, and sheep farms to vie for dominance in color and scent.

Fauré’s Requiem

By MAxima Kahn

The deer are here, four of them, all does, strolling through the underbrush, munching the tender leaves, picking clean the lowest branches of my flowering pear tree. It has been so long since they have spent time here in the daylight, I am glad to see them and watch their elegant dance among the trees.

I don’t go out on the porch this morning so as not to disturb the deer—and also because it is chillier. I sit inside and listen to Fauré, who takes my breath away with the beauty and perfection of his music. If I could write music like this but relevant to now, if only I could do that, be in that state of grace, what a gift and blessing and offering that would be. I would have to know that was worthwhile, that was enlarging the world, that was magnifying, in a sense, the glory of God, of creation.

TCR Talks with Helene Stapinski

BY: Lindsay jamieson

 

Helene Stapinski is a best-selling author of three memoirs: Five Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History, which has been made into a documentary; Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair with Music; and her latest, Murder in Matera: A True Story of Passion, Family, and Forgiveness in Southern Italy. Her essays have appeared in several anthologies, including Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up.

Susan Orlean’s The Library Book

BY: Annette Davis

Susan Orlean, in her latest work, The Library Book, takes an in-depth look at the Los Angeles Central Library’s fascinating history. Orlean creates an almost romantic image. She entices her readers to see all libraries as something more than book repositories but as living, vital members of communities, catering to the needs of all who seek knowledge and a place of refuge.