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.
“A mathematician,” G. H. Hardy wrote, “like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns." Throughout his childhood, Jim Tilley was encouraged to discover such patterns through the mathematical puzzles his father posed for him to solve. Never satisfied with ordinary solutions, his father insisted on mathematical elegance. Always more comfortable in the realm of the mind, he could never bring himself to give Tilley a hug; they'd merely shake hands on parting.
High school wrestler Jake Persson is living on vitamins and diet Mountain Dew as he fights to make weight at the height of championship season. In the small mining town in northern Minnesota's Iron Range where Jake lives, this is the most exciting thing that has happened in years. During his last meet, Jake confronts his future and the unnerving sense that his own body and desires are starting to betray him.
Stuck with a plane ticket to Israel bought for her by a Polish Catholic ex-boyfriend, Eileen Pollack sets out on a hectic, solitary journey around the country, cataloging the region’s rich history, natural beauty, and troubled politics, while examining her own complicated relationship to her Jewish faith and heritage. In this darkly comic, incisive, and nuanced essay, Pollack upends the reader’s expectations as well as her own.
Working off the books at a small goat farm in Vermont, without a birth certificate, a driver's license, or a credit card, Phoenix is as close as a young person can get to disappearing in modern America. Intelligent and lonely, the child of free-spirited parents, she takes her modest pay at the farm and waits for a sense of what her next step should be.
The year is 1989 in Los Angeles, and Miles Jameson is about to graduate from high school. The last big party of high school is approaching, along with the end of a turbulent decade, and Miles has only a vague desire to “work with his hands” (his girlfriend points out that this is a bit trite).
In a topsy-turvy ragtime era of side-shows and bamboozlers, Irish Maupin goes from street urchin to burlesque star. Plucked from the streets as a girl and fattened up for candy-factory advertising, she navigates a sensational career around heart-break and loneliness, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, manipulated by the men around her even as she defies them.