In 2012, we established Ploughshares Solos, a digital-first series for longer stories and essays, which is edited by Ploughshares Editor-in-Chief Ladette Randolph. New Solos are published regularly and are available for download on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Kobo.
Tim Parrish’s “The Critic” is a slightly surrealist account of the fraught, yet creative relationship cultivated between artists and critics. We meet a music critic who has devoted his entire life to covering the career of an elusive, Bob Dylan-esque musician referred to as “The Twerp.” But as the critic begins to hear The Twerp’s voice everywhere, we learn his vocation may have turned the corner into obsession.
Kyle Waller has spent his life working to the top of the corporate ladder, but now that retirement has come for him, he’s not sure what’s next. A chance encounter at a bar sends Kyle to Belize to chase adventure and an archaeological discovery that could make history.
Kemi, a risk-taker who's used to getting her way, and Tola, shy and obedient, couldn't be more different, but when boarding school brings the two together, they become inseparable. Their friendship and Tola's morals are put to the test when Kemi is involved in a serious and suspicious accident. Tola must make the difficult decision of telling the truth and obeying the gown-ups or protecting the secret of her newfound friend.
Following the death of her father, Sasha Jean attends a family reunion, after years of estrangement, with the uncomfortable knowledge that she has inherited the estate where her relatives live. “A History of China” explores the multi-generational stories that shape this complicated family.
In 2013, Eli Mandel decided to recreate the 642-mile trek that John Keats completed in the summer of 1818, hoping to learn more about the famous poet who died at the age of twenty-five. As Mandel matches his “ghostly companion’s” journey step-for-step, the moments of discovery turn inward and Mandel is forced to face his own ghosts.
Alfred Nobel, inventor of nitroglycerin and inspiration for the Nobel Peace Prize, visited the United States twice. "Koppargruva," from Hugh Coyle’s forthcoming book Peace at Last, is a fictionalized account of one of those excursions. Dubbed a killer by American journalists because of recent accidental nitroglycerin blasts in Panama and San Francisco, Nobel faces his tarnished reputation head on while searching for any sliver of redemption.
In 1990, the avant-garde jazz musician Sun Ra arrived at Dartmouth to collaborate with the school’s jazz band, where Michael Lowenthal–an anxious, 20-year-old senior–played trumpet. As rehearsals got underway and two musical worlds collided, Lowenthal struggled with the improvisation that Sun Ra’s sparse, yet spiritual, melodies demanded. In this essay, Lowenthal recounts his “otherworldly” experience with the famous jazz star who claimed to be from Saturn.
Polly always finds refuge in painting. But when the beautiful landscapes of the Maine island where she spends her summers leave her uninspired, she questions the life she’s been living for the past thirty years. Will the reappearance of an old, seemingly successful friend be the spark Polly needs to get back on track, or will it derail her even further?
There's a specter floating above the pews at afternoon mass. Father Montgovery has no idea why the ghostly presence has followed him around for years, but, when a longtime parishioner asks for help in getting his drug-addicted daughter clean, Father Montgovery must do his best to ignore the phantom and shift his focus to the physical, and sometimes harrowing, world.
When 11-year-old Tino isn't sitting quietly in school, he's either visiting his dying mother in the hospital or making sure his UFO-obsessed father eats dinner. A loner among his peers, Tino is surprised when Omar, the strongest boy in school, befriends him out of the blue. Will Tino's intrigue outweigh his self-imposed isolation?