E.A. Mann is an engineer and freelance writer living in Warren, R.I.

I’ve read just about every issue of The New Yorker for the past seven years, and despite all of the big, important journalism I’ve read in those pages, this minor-key piece about a small town druggist has resonated deepest with me.

As readers, we bring our pre-conceived ideas of what an article will be, and I assumed that this character study would pull back its camera and end as a commentary on the state of healthcare in America. But its author, entranced by his subject, instead burrows deeply into Dr. Don’s outsized life in the lonely town of Nucla (population: 700 and falling), where the lonely landscape causes “wives [to] leave the passenger’s side empty and sit in the middle of the front seat, close enough to touch their husbands.” What the author ends up with is a haunting study on community, regret, and the essential mystery of other people.

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