Author Archive
A Half-Sentence

A Half-Sentence

A note inscribed in the margin of an ancient book connected me, across an ocean and a century, to a fateful decision.

Call for Submissions: Free Speech

In The Fray magazine is looking for essays, reportage, and photo essays that have something to say about free speech—its importance and its limits, its necessity and its consequences. When does cultural sensitivity become excessive political correctness and censorship? To what extent does free speech make a democracy more vibrant, and to what extent does it make a culture more hateful?

My Worst Best Friend

My Worst Best Friend

I had no friend quite like Ed. We also hated each other.

He was with me all the time. He knew all my secrets. When I was in high school, all I wanted was to be perfect. At 5:30 a.m. I would run six miles. Then, after school, I would study until 10 p.m., breaking only for dinner. I always had to get an A. He understood why I would wrap my hips and abdomen in duct tape to keep it all in, so that my tight pants would fit perfectly and no amount of fat could bubble over the top.

When we had meals together, he would reassure me that it was okay to eat only fruits and vegetables. He would agree when I would say, “I'm fat, I need to lose weight.” He saw what I saw in the mirror.

Unearthing Another War

Unearthing Another War

Best of In The Fray 2014. Last year I visited Saur-Mogila, a burial mound in eastern Ukraine that commemorates the Soviet soldiers who died driving back the Nazis during World War II. Today it is a battleground for a new war, as separatists fight for independence and Russia moves its troops into the lands it once liberated.

Street Fighters

Street Fighters

Dozens died in mass demonstrations earlier this year against the Venezuelan government. While the violence has subsided, the conflict continues to spill out onto the sidewalks and storefronts of urban Caracas, where opponents and supporters of the government engage in an art of war over the symbolism of the protests and the memory of the dead.

Call for Submissions: Frenemies

"Frenemies": friends with fewer benefits. It's often an apt term to describe our working lives, where polite interactions mask fierce competition. But it applies to other domains as well: from the love-hate relationships of siblings and lovers, to the tangled web of international relations (take, for example, longtime allies Germany and the US, recently in a bitter spat over American espionage). Yet having a frenemy is not necessarily a bad thing. Musical rivalries produce great songs (see the hit musical Beautiful). One-time political opponents sometimes become the most formidable of allies (see Bush v. Gore veterans/gay-marriage crusaders David Boies and Ted Olson).

The Poetry of Pussy Riot: A Review of Words Will Break Cement

The Poetry of Pussy Riot: A Review of Words Will Break Cement

Journalist Masha Gessen wrote a well-received biography of Russian president Vladimir Putin two years ago. In her new book Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, she profiles Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist punk activist group whose members have become the international faces of anti-Putin protest.

In recent years the group has won a global following—including the likes of Madonna and Paul McCartney—for their offbeat acts of civil disobedience against the Russian government. One of their best-known protests—a controversial “punk prayer” performance in a Moscow cathedral in 2012—eventually landed three of its members in jail. Gessen, a Russian American journalist and herself a critic of Putin, follows the personal histories of these three members: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Stanislavovna Samutsevich (Kat). Most of the book was culled from Gessen’s reporting from their trial and her correspondence with Nadya and Maria while they were in prison.

The White Death, Revived

The White Death, Revived

Best of In The Fray 2014. Once thought cured by modern medicine, tuberculosis is making a global comeback. Rampant misuse of antibiotics and broken health-care systems have spawned deadly, drug-resistant strains that are now present in virtually every country.

Call for Submissions: Resistance

Ukraine. Venezuela. Thailand. The Arab Spring. We are living in a time of vibrant protest, captured and magnified by cellphone videos and Twitter feeds. On both the political right and left, grassroots movements have emerged everywhere—including America and Europe—to resist authority and overturn the establishment.

We want to hear your stories of resistance: from powerful mass movements to personal relationships.

Tourism in a Time of War

Tourism in a Time of War

People warned me not to go. Government advisories declared “avoid all travel.” But I ran off and fell in love with Lebanon anyway.

Call for Submissions: Forgiveness

Send us stories – captured in prose, art, or photography – about how forgiveness has played out in the lives of individuals and communities.

Burning Man’s Economy of Loving-Kindness

Burning Man’s Economy of Loving-Kindness

I had thought Burning Man would be a nonstop hedonistic party. But when I arrived at the arts festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert last summer, I realized it was really about building a community—one art installation, and one person, at a time.