In 2009, David Sedaris published a piece in The New Yorker about his best childhood friend and their mutual obsession with wildlife, particularly sea turtles. Part of his youthful focus on the majesty of sea turtles, he wrote, had to do with “the feeling of being accepted, which is to say, not feared.” But, like all stories of adolescence, Sedaris’s narrative contains multiple layers—and, as it unfolds, he immerses us in a remarkable tale of nostalgia and regret. This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces that explore the inner lives of children. In “Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli,” Adam Gopnik profiles the very energetic imaginary friend of his young daughter, Olivia. In “Six Glimpses of the Past,” Janet Malcolm explores moments from her childhood as reflected in early family photographs. In “When I Grow Up,” Rebecca Mead visits a theme park in Mexico City where children spend hours role-playing as adults. Finally, in “My Mother’s Dreams for Her Son, and All Black Children,” Hilton Als writes about growing up in Brooklyn and the racial injustices he witnessed there. Life as an adult can be rough—and the process of becoming one presents its own unique rewards and challenges.
— David Remnick
Sea turtles and me.
A theory of busyness, and its hero.
On photography and memory.
The theme-park chain where children pretend to be adults.
She longed for black people in America not to be forever refugees—confined by borders that they did not create and by a penal system that killed them before they died.