Oct/Nov 2023

e c l e c t i c a
n o n f i c t i o n


The Seizural '60s
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

I attended services at tiny primitive Baptist churches—Indian Creek, Center Grove, New Jerusalem—to introduce myself to the community. Congregants welcomed this white boy from Oregon. I was entranced by preachers who held forth about Daniel in the lion's den and Job's tribulations in a rapturous singsong believers' rap, equating Biblical struggles with their own people's. I loved the gospel singing: congregants rocking in their pews, hands raised. Women occasionally swooned, and sisters in white dresses rushed in with fans to cool them off. I felt like I'd come home. I knew if I had a fit in church they would lay me out on a pew and loosen my tie, believing me touched by the spirit. No shame in that.

William Luvaas

Pen Pals

For 15 years we wrote letters back and forth. His were long, each page crammed from edge to edge with hand-written stories of his experiences behind bars and his drive to live a life of value—wherever he resided. I learned about the Social Consciousness class he organized and led at the prison. Ditto about the Music Appreciation class. I learned about his job in the chaplain's office, and the legal actions he pursued to end overcrowding and medical misconduct in Alabama prisons. I learned of his futile parole hearings and his never-ending attempts to overturn his conviction.

Eve Goldberg

Two Essays about Civil Rights

In school you learn about a usual cast of people who have fought for Civil Rights, but we're not often told about individuals like Faya Touré and Hank Sanders, who have not only been influential in the fight for voting rights, but who are still very much alive and working for Civil Rights. As a high school sophomore, it's hard for me to understand why so many state legislatures would prefer not to have us learn about people who have devoted their lives to making people uncomfortable and challenging Alabama's long history of discrimination against African-Americans.

Hiya and Jiya D.

Love Affair with an Old Russian

I sat in that chair long after Dottie and her son left, long after my mother went to bed, reading until my eyelids were so heavy, an invasion of Cossacks could not have kept me awake. Throughout the weekend, Dostoevsky and I were inseparable. I was in an altered state I never wanted to leave. I lamented Raskolnikov's fevered reflection: "Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth."

Donna Cameron

Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner

I admit to being flattered when these senior colleagues like me. I know I'm absolutely not going to get involved with married men generally, and I'm not attracted to either of these men specifically, so to me, their flirtation is harmless. I admit I don't give much consideration to their wives. Since these women have made no effort to befriend me, I hardly think about them. But I also fail to recognize that the kind of attention I'm getting from their husbands means my colleagues are either not taking me seriously as a fellow scholar, or their behavior is a means—conscious or not—of objectifying and thereby undermining me. Whatever the case, I will come to realize their flirtation shows as little respect for me as it does for their wives.

Margaret Donovan Bauer