CURRENT ISSUE: Commencement 2017


A Death in the Neighborhood

When it started, Ms. Baker 
was talking about the aorta or the distance between stars and I was clicking my pen and looking at the empty seats. By this time the school day had settled into midmorning, but there were still four people missing. I was in sixth grade.


A third of the way through Science, Ms. Baker got a call on the class phone, and as she listened she turned her back towards us as if to shield us from the news.The class murmured versions of What’s Going On in a low rumble and in response she slammed the phone down and simply said “The train was late,” deftly executing a classic parental slight of hand.

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Inside the Houses of Other

He is Blot

it is a name

and down the street

he walks with

his name to a

house of timber

frame with a door

of mirrored glass

that he raps.

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Slinging Mud

The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 51⁄4 ounces avoirdupois and mea- sure not less than nine nor more than 91⁄4 inches in circumference. 

–– 2016 MLB Official Baseball Rules 

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When My Mother Comes Running

The geese still do this as they did it then. On the muddiest winter days, they walked from the town pond to our small front lawn and left black tracks atop the porch steps. It was an early afternoon in January. I was six and he was four, and the tapping of geese feet spilled like rain against the windows. Our mother was cleaning the bathroom sink. We were playing on the kitchen floor in our socks. Then he slipped and went flying through the glass backdoor, and all of it—the door, my little bowl-haired brother and his blue checkered pajamas—shattered in the cold. That scattering of geese, the squawking. We rushed to the hospital. My mother ran the red light at the school intersection and the nose of the police car that always poked out from the bushes just beyond the bend came swirling towards us. When he saw the sight of what was, the policeman, with wide hurting eyes, escorted us the rest of the way, this bushel of red blue lights pulsing in front like a thousand star-shaped bullets, and my bleeding brother, stunned and swaddled in a light green bathroom towel, strapped into the car seat next to me.

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The Merchant of Chinatown: a Review of ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail'

The end of the 2008 financial crisis marked the beginning of an agitated love-hate affair between Hollywood and Wall Street. Movies that satirized, maligned, or celebrated the exploits of the veiled “masters of the universe” became incredibly popular. Hollywood had found its new villain, and the following years saw the release of a string of movies like Margin Call (2011), Too Big to Fail (2011), and The Big Short (2015). Steve James’s new documentary, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, might be described as the anti-Big Short. It refuses to play into the tropes and excesses of its precursors. For one, it makes no attempt to glamorize the work of bankers or bamboozle the viewer into dumb awe with a barrage of inscrutable technical terms—CDS’s, MBS’s, tranches, and the like. Instead, the only source of the fantastic comes from the film’s very premise: Abacus is a profile of the only bank to have been criminally charged with mortgage fraud in the wake of 2008, and the family behind its operations.

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A Conversation with Michelle Kuo

It was only fitting that Michelle Kuo gave her Cambridge reading at the Cambridge Public Library. College ’03 and Law School ’09, and now a professor at the American University of Paris, Kuo spent two years after college in Helena, Arkansas with Teach for America. Her memoir, Reading With Patrick, documents and reflects on her time working with Patrick Browning, a quiet and introspective student in her classroom whom she returned to Arkansas to see upon learning he had been placed in jail for killing another man. While awaiting Patrick’s trial, in which the unintentional death was ultimately charged as manslaughter, Patrick and Kuo read and wrote together every day. I sat down with Michelle to talk about the complex process of writing and discussing the memoir, the questions we ask ourselves as progressives and young people, and, of course, books.

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