Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Jennifer
November 12th, 2014 | 6:00am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Jennifer

Under our mother’s dictatorship, we had one liberty. Each market day, she bought a crate of Golden Delicious apples and tipped the Swiss vendor to lug it up the three steep flights of stairs that led to our immigrant’s cramped apartment. The full crate barely fit on the bottom shelf of our small pantry, where it sat for us all month. These apples were our only snack, but we could eat of them without restriction.

Photo by author
November 10th, 2014 | 8:30am

Photo by author

I read Peter MatthiessenThe Snow Leopard in Ohio anticipating a trip to Kathmandu, via Abu Dhabi, where I arrived one bright day at the end of October. In the book, Matthiessen descends to grey Kathmandu after two months climbing the pristine crags of the Himalayas. In the city, the planar snows can appear only as an afterimage, a ghostly trick of the eyes. Matthiessen has not seen the elusive snow leopard he hoped to find, which represented Zen transcendence. He wanted to reach that state, but discovers that, being human, he can only approximate it. That, he decides, is enough. Returned to his worldly self, nature has explained itself and him. Where the snow lives, the Sanskrit himalaya, is eternal. He, by comparison, is nothing.

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November 7th, 2014 | 6:00am

Photo by author

We drive on a gray day in October, a scenic four-hour drive from my new home in Baltimore to my old home in Leechburg, a small steel town in the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania, where I lived from ages 8 through 15—the longest stretch of childhood I spent in one location. Though it’s a place I’ve often gone back to in my fiction, I haven’t returned in person in over 15 years. The trip is reconnaissance and romance: scene gathering for a novel and a chance to explore my memory with M.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Oh Kaye
November 5th, 2014 | 5:00am

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons user Oh Kaye

I was not allowed to walk or ride my bike along the highway without an adult. “Blonde hair and blue eyes,” my grandma would tell me. “Just the kind they’d want to steal.” As though at any moment, I could be taken and sold for profit like a chunk of copper wire. 

“They’re not gonna steal me, Grandma,” I would tell her. “I’m too mouthy.”

November 4th, 2014 | 5:00am

Benjamin Anastas is the author of Too Good to be True, a memoir described by The New York Times as smart and honest and searching,” and so plaintive and raw it will leave most writers… with heart palpitations.” He has written two novels, An Underachievers Diary, and The Faithful Narrative of a Pastors Disappearance, as well as multiple reviews and essays, one of which, Boys with a Synth,” is published in Issue 06 of The Common. Melody Nixon talked with Anastas about his skepticism for social media, the role of the writer in society, and memoir as fictionwhiny and embarrassing stepchild.”