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My all-time favorite story

Stanley Teeven
Stanley Teeven

Back in the early months of 1992, when I was a junior at the University of Delaware, I applied everywhere for a summer internship.

When I type “everywhere,” I mean (almost literally) anywhere. Big papers and magazines, small papers and magazines. Weekly papers. Daily papers. Rolling Stone and Time and Sports Illustrated and People. I probably sent out, oh, 300 packets with my resume, clips and a cover letter—and very few outlets even bothered to reply.

One day, however, I was sitting in my dorm room when a manilla envelope appeared with a brown Boston Magazine mailing label. I opened the parcel, and inside was a typed four-page letter from Steve Buckley, one of the publication’s star writers. For no reason other than goodness, Steve broke down my clips, one by one by one—explaining what worked, what didn’t work, and why. He said, regrettably, that Boston Magazine didn’t offer paid internships, but that “I suspect you’re going to be a player in this game.” Those words … man. Those words.

Anyhow, Steve also included a couple of Boston Magazine issues, as well as a photocopy of a story he’d written in December of 1991. That night I took some time to read OF MONUMENTS AND MEN.

Then I read it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

In the quarter century that has passed, I’ve probably read OF MONUMENTS AND MEN a solid 200 times. When I teach at Chapman University, every semester I center one of my classes around it. I’ve had Steve speak via phone and Skype to students about it. Put simply, I consider it the absolute perfect magazine feature. Tone. Texture. Pacing. Emotional impact and restraint. It’s that good, and while Steve surely thinks I’m some sort of odd Buckley/Teeven groupie, the truth is very few articles have impacted me in such ways.

Anyhow, I’ve long mentioned OF MONUMENTS AND MEN, and I figure it’s time I share (the story is unavailable digitally). Maybe you’ll love it as much as I do. Maybe you won’t.

Either way, it’s insanely fantastic work from an insanely fantastic writer and person …

 

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