Fiction Pick of the Week: "The Christmas Miracle"
A hallucinatory, grotesque family Christmas.
A hallucinatory, grotesque family Christmas.
The Canadian scapegoat of the AIDS epidemic.
A cri de cœur on AIDS: “If we don’t act immediately, then we face our approaching doom.”
Punitive notions of disease have a long history, and such notions are particularly active with cancer. There is the “fight” or “crusade” against cancer; cancer is the “killer” disease; people who have cancer are “cancer victims.” Ostensibly, the illness is the culprit. But it is also the cancer patient who is made culpable.
We stopped at a service station where there were old truck drivers, their vehicles festooned with red banners: “All-out war against the virus, weather hard times together.” The drivers wore their masks down around their chins as they smoked. I asked for water at the only open shop, and the assistant pulled his jacket up to cover his mouth before saying “over there.”
What happens when illness becomes an identity?
On plagues, parasitic mind control, and magical thinking.
“To fight for my son, I have to argue that he should never have been born.”
A tuberculosis crisis in the rural South.
When a creature mysteriously turns up dead in Alaska, veterinary pathologist Kathy Burek gets the call.
“Today it’s a mosquito. Tomorrow God only knows what is going to happen.”
On Robin Williams’s final months.
For those who suffer from environmental illnesses, the town of Snowflake is an escape from a modern world full of allergens: fragrances, gluten, wifi.
For a time, NGOs thought they’d eradicated the disease. But now it’s back.
The author of The Hot Zone on how geneticists can help contain the current outbreak.
Kim Goodsell had a pair of rare diseases. Doctors didn’t have the time to look for a link. So she taught herself genetics and found it herself.
A profile of a doctor fighting Ebola in Uganda.
A day after swimming in an Arkansas water park, Kali Harding was diagnosed with a brain-eating amoeba that kills 99% of the people infects. This is the story of how she survived.
How the Ebola virus works.
Exploring the riddle of Morgellons disease: sufferers feel things crawling under their skin and hardly anyone believes them.
It comes from the soil of the desert Southwest. Inhaled, it can cause incurable, even fatal illness. And, thanks to global warming, valley fever is spreading fast.
A mother's illness through the eyes of a child; from the author of Hill William, forthcoming from Tyrant Books.
"The next day Mom and Dad were getting ready to go someplace. Before they left, my mother sat at the kitchen table. Ruby stood at the sink washing Styrofoam plates, bragging about how many preserves she put up or how many potatoes she was going to plant this year. My dad told her it wasn’t healthy to wash Styrofoam plates and use them again. Grandma whispered, 'Shit.'"
A terminally ill young woman arrives in New York to spend her last months.
"Outside, the spring wind rippled the silk across Sabrina’s skin and as she tilted her face up, the sun drew freckles across her nose and cheeks. She felt lighter than she had in weeks. It had been a strange irony that even as she was losing weight, she’d felt leaden; it was the loss of energy, of course, but it was more than that, too. It was as if the knowledge inside her was quantifiable, which meant it was diminishable, too. She hadn’t wanted to hand pieces of her diagnosis to those she knew, those she loved—but what a relief to give a sliver of it away."
Changes forced by cancer put a Dominican-American man at odds with his family.
"The fever lasted two days, but it took a week before he was close to better, before he was spending more time on the couch than in bed. I was convinced that as soon as he was mobile he was going to head right back to Yarn Barn, or try to join the Marines or something. My mother feared the same. Told him every chance she got that it wasn’t going to happen. She was the tiniest person, but she posted up on him like she was Gigantor. I won’t allow it. Her eyes were shining behind her black Madres de Plaza de Mayo glasses. I won’t. Me, your mother, will not allow it."
The appearance of a "mole man" reflects the past and realities of a hardscrabble town.
"We are soothed by the authoritative acronym-loaded binder delivered to us ages ago by the gentleman-embodiment of the U.S. Department of Energy and stored in its secure glass-faced case beside the MSDS and the Terror Alert Color Wheel, for since there are no people who dug the dark tunnels of Yucca Mountain, nor people working as stewards of the nation’s nuclear waste deep inside, then it is only a rumor that there is a subterranean population at the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository, only local lore that below us, in a town perhaps identical to ours, move once-human creatures whose genes the Department has tweaked over generations until their skin went translucent, until a scrim of skin grew over their useless eyes, until two thick, cord-like and translucent whiskers sprouted from their faces, sensitive as a catfish’s barbels, and their mouths gone a little catfish too, a side effect."