Story and Photography by Rose Marie Mercado
I got a call from Becky Saletan, an editor at Riverhead Books in 2009, asking if I would write a book about Daniel Suelo, a man who had lived a decade without money, barter or government welfare. He had been the subject of a Details magazine profile that had provoked a passionate worldwide response: Some thought he was an inspiration or even a saint, others deemed him a freeloader, a nut, a charlatan and a threat to the foundations of civilization.
By John Nova Lomax
One of my earliest memories is of my mother gently lying me down in a makeshift crib inside a defunct bathtub at Houston’s venerable Old Quarter nightclub while Townes Van Zandt wailed his celestial folk and demon-haunted blues downstairs; his muffled words and guitar licks rose up to me on the humid night air.
TJ holds the red rooster against his chest like a cradled baby as his teenage son Gavin selects the weapon. From a lacquered box, the 17-year-old removes a 1-inch stainless steel blade in the shape of a crescent and tests the sharpness by shaving some hair from the back of his hand. He blows the hair from the blade and walks over to the rooster.
Retracing the steps of the HillBilly Snap Shooter Joe Clark
“I thought of the way I’d start the story, if I were you, by the way.” Tom Junod knows how he would start a profile on Tom Junod. Of course he does. Half teasing, half serious, the emailed carrot is a tempting rescue from writer’s block.
How would Tom Junod begin a profile of himself?
Richard Rhodes turned his life around. He earned a scholarship to Yale, married, had two children, launched an enviable writing career and won a Pulitzer Prize. A storybook tale of triumph over tragedy. But storybook tales are for children. He drank too much, turned anorexic, divorced twice and spent years in psychotherapy unable to write, fearful of his own emotions.
The woman arrives carefully coifed and brightly pink-faced. Just another enthusiastic fan. But the blonde’s veneer soon cracks. “You’re wrong!” she starts yelling. “You don’t understand the damage you’re doing here. You’re causing divisiveness and damage and it’s not about banning books!”
Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author and Pulitzer finalist, stands stunned. Just a half-hour earlier, in this Tucson ballroom, hundreds of dinner guests had given him a standing ovation. Now the woman’s accusations echo in the nearly empty room. Luis’ signature humor and warmth start to slip; his initial surprise turns to anger. The few people milling about know this woman, a Tucson school district employee. They roll their eyes and shrug her off, trying to ignore her.
In the main auditorium of the private Quaker school, the students are about to assemble, eager to hear from the famous former teacher who turned a student assignment into a bestselling book about 28,800 yellow rubber duckies lost at sea. In the front office, faculty and administrators greet Donovan enthusiastically as he signs in tardy. “Donovan Hohn!” one teacher calls out. “Moby-Duck, right?”