The first thing that caught my eye in this issue of Neutrons Protons was the titling of the included pieces, and I was intrigued to read more, as you will be when you see titles such as “A Social Media Marketer’s Guide to Chronic Illness” and “The House with No Doorknobs” and “It Was All So Pinteresting” and “The Tin Man Addresses the Parole Board.” I urge you to read past the titles that invite you in; you’ll be glad you did.
The “Heart” section of this issue (creative nonfiction and essays) starts out with a touching piece from Kevin Pentalow, “Mountains.” As the narrator takes his last mountain hike to finish the 46ers, the highest peaks of the Adirondack, it is also his last hike with his father but the first big hike with his son. It’s a subtle meditation on both coming to an end to something and on beginning things with a new energy.
One of the most powerful, well-crafted, and important inclusions in the bunch is Kathryn Ross’s “Defiance,” a four-stranded braid that shows Ross’s experience growing up. She wishes to be seen first as a person, not as a black person. In one of the strands, she has a conversation with one of her friends: “Can't I just be you're friend Kathryn? You don't know any other Kathryn Rosses, do you?” The other strands carefully weave in quotes from W.E.B. Du Bois, a scene in a college literature class, and a scene in which Ross cuts her hair and “release[s] the wet locks from [her] head forever.”
Meg Nanson reaches the reader in a different kind of personal experience as she talks about her life with a chronic illness and how she doesn’t run after her passion. “Force it to run through you, no matter what you’re doing,” she writes. For her, it’s working as a social media marketer. It’s the image in the end of her The Little Prince tattoo that brings it all into focus: “I still like what it represents: the simple, skeletal outline combined with the knowledge of the secret reality that sits inside.”
Also in this issue are humor and comics sections, but I’ll leave you to enjoy those on your own. As you can tell from some of the titles listed above, you’re in for some treats.