Updike Country
In the semi-rural suburbs of southeastern PA, finding — and living in — Rabbit Angstrom's middle America.
By Morgan Meis

On a very clear day, blue sky, bright, bright sunlight, you’ll spy an amazing cloud. It is structured like a column. It is dense and white and billows upward, touching the outer limits of the firmament, seemingly. Probably it goes up only a few hundred feet. But the verticality of the cloud is what makes it so inspiring. Just going right up there. Up into the heavens over semi-rural Pennsylvania.

How did this cloud get here, in such an otherwise empty, blue sky? It is a miracle. More… “Updike Country”

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of Morgan’s selected essays can be found here. He can be reached at morganmeis@gmail.com.
I don't miss them

Bored and agitated one summer day some years ago, I jumped in my car and drove 90 miles through a mostly green Pennsylvania to see some cows. But not just any cows. In the late sixties, I lived at the Milton Hershey School, an all-boys boarding school for orphans and semi-orphans founded by the inventor of modern chocolate manufacturing. My father died when I was 11, and that was my dubious ticket into Milton Hershey. Daily barn chores were part of our high school responsibilities, and it was to the barn I had worked in for four years that I made my impromptu dash. To do what when I arrived there I could not say.

Albert DiBartolomeo is the author of two novels, several short stories, numerous commentaries for the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications, and has written… More…

Caspar Schwenckfeld von Ossig (1556)

The Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center is near the train tracks that cut through Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. Nearly every town in southeastern Pennsylvania is organized like Pennsburg: A few houses lining a short empty street that was once a thoroughfare for trains that stopped moving a long time ago. The trains once served the mills and the factories, but those have stopped moving too. The street in these towns might have a restaurant or a gas station for the commuters who live in the housing developments that now ring a fortress around the railroad tracks. The architecture of southeastern Pennsylvania might be called development by erasure; the more that is built, the less of southeastern Pennsylvania there seems to be. The farms erased the wigwams and the railroads erased the farms, and sometimes it feels like few people really live here. The woman at the laundromat and the man at the… More…


At the Lancaster Heritage Museum I read a standard Amish school assignment that said, “As dead leaves ruin a lawn, so bad habits ruin a life.”  On the page there was a simple drawing of a tree with leaves falling to a lawn. Underneath the lawn the instructions read, “Write a bad habit on top of each leaf.” Three of the leaves on the ground had already been filled in with “Poor Grammar,” “Pride,” and “Carelessness,” all bad habits I could probably attribute to myself. I took a seat on a wooden school bench in the museum with the notebook of assignments and got to work on thinking about how I should fill in the rest of the ditto. I would definitely have to include “Aimlessness” on one leaf, “Compulsive Sarcasm” on another, as well as “Distrust of… More…