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Top Ten in Commentary

Love Like All The Stars In The Sky, Rafael Torch

• Rafael Torch wrote nine commentaries for Contrary as he was dying of cancer. This may be the only one he needed to write. It may be the only thing any of us ever needed to write.

 Plum Island, Andrew Coburn

The first literary work by the renowned mystery writer Andrew Coburn included this picturesque commentary we published in 2007.

Ascension, Kevin Heath

Kevin Heath creates meaning in succinct potions of metaphor, humor, pathos, and beauty. See also his commentary, Strike Anywhere Matches.

The History of Us, Becca Rose Hall

This sexy commentary produces the same effect in reader as in protagonist: seething and wondering at the edges of permeable boundaries.

Prepare to Believe, Dane Cervine

A visit to the Creation Museum, an insight into the nature of belief.

Encyclopedia Floridiana, Lia Skalkos

Can you tell the natural history of a life, your life, by telling the natural history of your environment? We are all a part of the web.

Yellow Finches, Jim Krosschell

Maine nature writer Jim Krosschell, with his sweeping eye for natural beauty, focuses on a tiny yellow bird.

Olea Europaea, Theresa Kishkan

The lushest travel writing as a young woman journeys in Greece. How much is she remembering? How much dreaming? After appearing in Contrary, this essay became a chapter in Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, published by Goose Lane Editions in 2011.

City of the Million Lights, Re’Lynn Hansen

Love, the tender plight of humanity, captured across a year working at a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Pawns of Mass Deception, Russell Hodin

“Weapons of Mass Destruction” was still a fresh lie in the believing public’s ear when Russell Hodin penned this, the greatest cartoon about the Iraq War.


Jeff McMahon is Contrary’s editor.

Contrary Editor Jeff McMahon writes about climate change for Forbes. He has written for newspapers and the newfangled and has been a regular contributor, on writers and writing, to PEN International magazine. His commentaries have won a national first-place award from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and he was the first writer to win two Golden Quills for commentary from the International Society of Newspaper Editors. He also serves as Contrary‘s commentary editor. He teaches various forms of non-fiction writing at the University of Chicago.