Dispatches

Essays

Riding in the Jenny Biplane, an American Icon

It was all safe as houses, and twice as fun—an opportunity of a lifetime, and powerful enough an experience that I still have a hard time overlaying it on my childhood dreams of flying in a Jenny. For now, let me say that on this day a complicated little freedom machine called the Jenny—built to aid warfare, at once fragile and powerful in its utility, and as beautiful as a moth in the daylight—transported me through time and space and let me return to people I love.

Is Everything Alive?

Organized religions, at least the traditional monotheistic ones, are stingy in assigning a soul (only to humans) and defining its fate (blackened by sin). They bottle up the holy water, decree which acts are sins and which are virtues, box up God in a package of their own design. Why not let divinity spread out and envelop us, until we can see some faint glow of energy even in the inanimate?

“The New Year” & “Lying Awake”

Two classic essays, “The New Year” from 1836 and “Lying Awake” from 1852, by one of the best-known novelists in the English language.

Reviews

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The Common Reader, a publication of Washington University in St. Louis, offers the best in reviews, articles and creative non-fiction engaging the essential debates and issues of our time.

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