Apr/May 2024

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


From Baledweyne to Dadaab: A Refugee's Journey of Survival and Education
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

My journey to Dadaab began in late 2011 when I was eight years old. My family did not flee Somalia when the civil war broke out in 1991. When our once beautiful town of Baladweyne was transformed into a battlefield, we had no choice but to escape. We witnessed distressing scenes that filled our journey with horror. Families were left behind on the roadside, too exhausted to continue. These memories continue to haunt me.

Said Ibrahim

The Cooperstown of Comedy

The ticket is a wristband with a chip on which to compile your "comedy profile" by choosing favorites from a menu of comedians, TV shows, and movies. When visiting the mock‑up comedy club, the mock‑up TV room with couches and end tables, or the tiny mock movie theater, what you see will be determined by the profiles of whoever is present. Steer clear of the Bob Hope demographic.

David Guaspari

The thing about aging: a flash memoir

It was stunning to see people who found this safe existence normal.

Paul Ongtooguk

Trailing the Red Fox

A teacher by profession, I taught full-time at a university. Even three months earlier, I was rushing off to classes and traipsing around the city like everyone else. Under lockdown, however, the mad rush of the world had been halted, even though we were teaching classes and organizing events online. Work was in full swing, but it was a different and unreal world—almost like a dream. I was alone in a fifth-floor apartment, and my life suddenly consisted of screens of different shapes. As if Zoom and Google Meet classes were not dystopian enough, I found myself teaching Sophocles' King Oedipus. Explaining the riddle of the Sphinx and plague of Thebes in a world devastated by Covid-19 seemed uncanny, to say the least.

Sohana Manzoor

Horse With No Name

Vietnam haunted him, like most veterans I've met. In sober moments he avoided the cliché by discussing the subject in intellectual terms: a failure of political half measures and cold war cul-de-sacs and the pitfalls of a civilian-run military. Drunk, he vacillated between the terrors he endured, the vulgarities he witnessed and committed, and the political morass that rendered those horrors meaningless in soldiers' terms. He lost his war, and he didn't think it was his fault, which made it someone else's. The scapegoat changed with his mood and blood alcohol level.

Bruce Holbert