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 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.
Timi, a boy in Uzbekistan, navigates a strange world of camel breeding, half-understood Islamic doctrine, Mexican soap operas dubbed into Uzbek, and the legacy of widespread pollution from the Soviet era, all while dreaming of doing death-defying stunts on his rickety motorcycle. Lonely and accident-prone, Timi befriends an American humanitarian worker in a struggling marriage, tries to avoid his father's frequent rages, and plans out the astonishing motorcycle jump that will give meaning to
In 1924, hoping to cure his illness, Franz Kafka traveled to a sanatorium in Kierling, Austria, run by a Dr. Hugo Hoffman. He would spend his last days there. In Robert Cohen’s story, we see the end of Kafka’s life through Dr. Hoffman’s eyes. The doctor attempts to decipher the dying man’s enigmatic communications, scribbled on scraps of paper, while being harried by Kafka’s friend, Klopstock, and a young woman who has fallen in love with the then-unknown writer.
“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.