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.
In this meditative and flavorful essay, Alexandra Johnson visits Viggiano and the large, extended Italian family that would have been her own—had she married the youngest son, Giorgio, her old boyfriend. Now married to another man, she returns to the house to help Giorgio improve his English as he thinks about leaving southern Italy and its struggling economy behind.
Fleeing a turbulent Guatemala with her missionary parents, Penny returns to America and is forced to deal with a fresh kind of trauma: summer Bible camp for Mennonite teens. Along with her outspoken and rebellious friend, Gina, Penny struggles to deal with her past, the camp's fierce regulations, and the sexual energy that electrifies the air between the campers, counselors, and even visitors.
Young and naive, Kathleen Hill moves to newly independent Nigeria with her husband to teach at Igbobi College. It is the early 1960s, and Hill is soon caught up in the swirl of the times: the legacy of colonialism, chaos back in America, and violence and racism across the globe that touch even the quiet school where she teaches English literature.
Living under the shadow of two gifted parents, Astrid Nordling feels trapped everywhere but at the piano, finding solace in Schubert and Debussy. Her piano teacher is convinced that she is a prodigy; her mother is not so sure. Set in 1960s Chicago, this excerpt from Lisa Heiserman Perkins' upcoming novel shows that there can be such a thing as too much talent in a single family.
As the Second World War rages in Europe, two undergraduates in Tennessee work a summer job for a celebrated poetry professor, W. T. Harlan, as he supervises the clearing of a ravine to make a garden. At their side is a German POW, watched by military guard, who has been sent to help them with their task.
Sophie Forrest writes horror stories because she sees faces in the walls; men with their heads in their laps materialize in front of her when she's trying to enjoy her cafe creme; her former lover is marrying someone else amid oyster brunches and tennis matches.
When Tara Marconi leaves South Philadelphia on a whim to travel to Alaska for a job in a salmon hatchery, she quickly learns the cardinal rule on Baranof Island: "Work longer and harder than the person, usually male, beside you. And you'll do fine." Eager to prove herself, Tara works her way up at a cannery, studies subsistence with a native Tlingit hunter and gatherer, and earns a job on a boat crew. One by one, she finds that all of them want more from her than she is willing to give.
Even with a successful career as a lawyer and a beautiful wife, Tony Greto is tormented by his secrets--secrets that finally begin to surface at his 25th high school reunion.
Josh Cooper won Rookie of the Year in 1972 and was out of the majors by 1973, his pitching career ended by a sharp line drive up the middle. After moving back to his hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina, he has been pleasantly wasting his life for over three decades when a young woman shows up, claiming to be his daughter from one of many one-night stands.
In this gripping and wide-ranging essay, Nadelson deals with his grief after the premature death of a close friend, coupled with the joy accompanying the birth of his first child. Everything he now does—from caring for his daughter to wandering the streets of his run-down neighborhood in Oregon—starts to feel like a betrayal.