Produced in partnership with Tumblr Storyboard. Illustrations by Tully Mills. In February 1970, at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a pregnant woman named Colette MacDonald and her two…
By Katherine Eban Dave Voth, Fast and Furious supervisor for the ATF FORTUNE -- In the annals of impossible assignments, Dave Voth's ranked high. In 2009 the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,…
PUBLISHED: June 27, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6673 words)
The trick in foraging for a tooth lost in coffee grounds is not to be misled by the clumps. The only way to be sure is to rub each clump between your thumb and index finger, which makes a mess of your hands. For some twenty minutes this morning, Ginny and I have been hunting in the kitchen trash can for the top left front tooth of our seven-year-old granddaughter, Jessica.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 15, 2008
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5028 words)
It was the fall of 1967 when Frank Sulloway realized that the key to understanding Charles Darwin's genius lay in the fact that Darwin hadn't been one. Sulloway, a Harvard sophomore at the time, was hardly the first to be struck by how improbable it was that the theory of evolution had been discovered by so undistinguished a scholar, someone who once described himself as possessing "rather below the common standard in intellect." The historian Gertrude Himmelfarb, for example, once asked, "Why was it given to Darwin, less ambitious, less imaginative, and less learned than many of his colleagues, to discover the theory sought after by others so assiduously?" The answer that most biographies gave was simply that Darwin was a genius. To Sulloway, this sounded like a cop-out.
(Originally published in The New Yorker.) There was one condolence letter that made me laugh. Naturally, a lot of them made me cry. Some of those, oddly enough, were from people who had never met Alice. They'd become familiar with her as a character in books and magazine pieces I'd written--light books and magazine pieces about travelling or eating or family life. Virtually all those letters began in the same way, with a phrase like "Even though I never really knew Alice . . ." I was certain of what Alice's response would have been. "They're right about that," she would have said. "They never knew me."
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2006
LENGTH: 46 minutes (11739 words)
GRADY SHOWED UP ONE DAY at our house at 1409 Fifth Avenue West in Birmingham, and by and by she changed the way I saw the world. I was 7 when she came to iron and clean and cook for $18 a week, and she stayed for seven years. During that time everyone in our family came to accept what my father called "those great long talks" that occupied Grady and me through many a sleepy Alabama afternoon. What happened between us can be expressed in many ways, but its essence was captured by Graham Greene when he wrote that in every childhood there is a moment when a door opens and lets the future in. So this is a story about one person who opened a door and another who walked through it.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 1991
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5750 words)
Because I do not want to die in the brawny arms of an industrial-kitchen-fixtures salesman from Tulsa—at least, not one I’ve only just met—I don’t much care for airline…
PUBLISHED: Nov. 28, 2011
LENGTH: 6 minutes (1651 words)
Oral histories have cropped up in big numbers over recent years, in books and magazines and on websites.The form plain, uncensored interviews with subjects, exposing true voices (those words…
PUBLISHED: Nov. 7, 2011
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2731 words)
The boss—sitting behind an impossibly cluttered desk, in an impossibly cluttered room, with the sound of the bagel factory in full swing upstairs, churning away with the noise of a ship's engine—looked down at the resume and chewed thoughtfully on his lower lip. Then he abruptly looked up with the penetrating, profound, and fired up expression of a prosecutor who is about to ask the question on which the whole case would turn. He said: "If someone buys three dozen bagels, and they get a free bagel for every dozen, how many would you give them?"
PUBLISHED: March 29, 2004
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8012 words)