Chapel Hill, North Carolina's The Sun publishes short stories and articles, many blurring the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, all ringing true in one way or another.
The lead article in the October 2003 issue is David Barsamian's interview with Noam Chomsky. In "Language of Mass Deception," the modern American gadfly questions the integrity of the corporate-controlled media. "For an independent journalist," says Chomsky, "giving an interview to the invader shouldn't be any different than giving an interview to the invaded. Yet the latter is described as treachery, abandoning journalistic integrity, and so on. What that says about independent journalism in the U.S. is astounding."
Stephen J. Lyons' essay, "End Times," describes his road trip through the Bible Belt on a quest for shrimp and relaxation in Florida on the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "In Dyersburg, Tennessee, a knot of men and women stand at a busy intersection, holding signs that announce, ’The end is coming,' ’Repent,' and ’Prepare for Christ.'"
Otis Haschemeyer's "The Designated Marksman"—from the recent Macadam/Cage anthology, Politically Inspired—is about a military sharpshooter and the soul-rending taffy puller he finds himself in after the death of an innocent girl by his hand. This riveting story includes intimate details that you might think only a real military sharpshooter could supply. It was only by its grouping in the table of contents that I knew it was fiction.
Susan Parker's "The Pleasure Was All Mine" concerns a woman forced to care for her quadriplegic husband. Financially strapped, they take in an older, unlicensed caretaker, who soon brings along an elderly friend down on his luck, a Black man named Leroy. Leroy has bad eyesight and mistakenly dons some of her clothes, but at least constantly tells her how gorgeous she is. The whole thing seemed rather precious to me, like a light-hearted play, which was something of a relief, even though "Pleasure" is listed as a true story.
"Parting Questions" by Carroll Susco is the moving narrative of a woman dealing with the loss of her beloved stepfather. She starts to hear a convincing voice in her head, but reminds herself of previous bouts with schizophrenia. This was another case where I had to recheck the table of contents to see that it is listed under "True Stories."
The Sun has a "Readers Write" section. Future issues will include such broad subjects as "Stepfamilies," "Hard Work" and "Fitting In." This time around, it was "Excuses," beginning with such lines as "I had a physically and emotionally abusive childhood ..." and "I have been secretly in love with a married woman for the past year and a half." Most of these are published anonymously.
There are a lot of black and white photos, and some poetry, in this blend of fact and metaphor, which is, simply, an amazing reading experience. You should forget what your mother told you; gazing into The Sun for prolonged periods is definitely a smart thing to do.