The village lay on the south coast of Cornwall. Every day the fog came over the ploughed fields and sucked at what lived beneath. Gweek would have been called a fishing village, if there were any fish or fishermen left.
Lifting Visqueen veils spread over little darlings, selecting seedlings to set each predawn rise. We coffeed up, chewed rumors, shared ourselves wherever needed without a hint of roundworm belly, malathion burn, or pay bounce still to come.
Before I learned about his utopian philosophy of expat writing or his scrappy resistance to publishing-market forces, I knew David Applefield as the marketer of the HAPPY CAP—the world’s first mess-free way to cover a toothpaste tube. This was, of course, completely by chance.
I was thumbing through his papers in the Amherst College archives as The Common’s inaugural holder of the David Applefield ’78 Fellowship, an Amherst College student internship endowed in Applefield’s honor by his friends and family. Tucked among sheets of poetry, reviews of Applefield’s two novels, and other literary artifacts, I was surprised to find a series of letters typed on the official stationery of “A.R.A. Industries.”
(Amherst, Mass. November 2, 2023)—The award-winning, international literary journal The Common announced today that Sam Spratford ’24 will be the inaugural recipient of the David Applefield ’78 Fellowship. The fellowship, the magazine’s first endowed student internship, was established in 2022 by a group of friends and family organized by David Whitman ’78, in honor of his late classmate and roommate, who was a literary polymath, international activist, media entrepreneur, and the founder of Frank, an eclectic English-language literary magazine based in Paris.
The Common Magazine Announces Inaugural David Applefield ’78 Fellow
We launched Issue 24 last week, which features an exciting medley of writing: pieces about journalists and translators, forest fires and traveling icebergs, ghosts, cousins, and parents. Wondering what our contributors are reading? Check out their book recommendations below:
In Amalia Ulman’s debut feature, El Planeta, which she wrote and directed, Ulman and her real-life mother (Ale Ulman) play a mother and a daughter awaiting eviction. Ulman’s character, Leo (short for Leonor), has returned home after the death of her father, whose sporadic alimony payments barely supported her mother when he was alive. Leo is jobless and so is her mother, María. The two women spend most of the film in their narrow galley kitchen where the sunlight is abundant, and they aren’t tempted to waste money on electric lighting. Their refrigerator is empty, save for the tiny slips of paper María places in the freezer, each one bearing the handwritten name of an enemy. Atop the refrigerator are multiple glasses of water, which have something to do with María’s witchcraft—a practice that seems more like a distracting hobby than a coherent belief system. Leo sews bizarre yet fashionable clothing by hand, having sold her sewing machine for cash. They drink coffee, cook pasta, and, when they are really hungry, dress up in designer clothing and run up large bills in restaurants and stores, promising to pay later or claiming that Leo’s boyfriend is a local politician who will pick up the tab. They live in Gijón, a small city on Spain’s northern coast, a place hit hard by the global recession, with shuttered shops and empty tourist districts. It’s no wonder these two women are more at home in their delusions of grandeur.