Recently by Joan Marcus:

The Turkish delight was, in retrospect, a pretty big mistake. We were browsing a Middle Eastern market near our home in upstate New York, a festive, mom-and-pop place where I tend to buy way more than I need. It was winter — cars plowing down Genesee Street beyond the front window throwing plumes of brown slurry — and I needed a pick-me-up in the worst way. When I saw that box of candy, I was basically powerless to resist. It was obscenely large, the size of a cookie sheet or a generous end table, and it was on sale. For reasons that seem a little sad to me now, that candy felt like an opportunity.

My husband looked anxious when I approached the checkout line, box tucked up under my arm like a surfboard. Over the years, Rog has watched me eat a lot of things saner adults revile —… More…

The day after the season one finale of Naked and Afraid premiered on August 3rd, I went to brunch with my in-laws at a deli in Bethesda, the kind of place that serves toppling smoked meat sandwiches and omelets the size of handbags. When the subject of the Discovery Channel’s hit reality series came up, I felt a brief surge of excitement as I hovered over my sausage and eggs. Naked and Afraid — a show in which one man and one woman are stranded nude in hostile wilderness without food or water for 21 days — was my guilty pleasure of the summer, and I wanted desperately to talk with someone who understood how wonderful and ridiculous and shameful it was to be hooked on such over-the-top reality fare.

Essays and stories by Joan Marcus appear in The Sun, Fourth… More…

When I was 12, I had a wicked crush on John Hurt in the role of Caligula in Masterpiece Theatre’s I Claudius. This was in 1977 and my parents still owned the boxy, black-and-white Zenith with the plastic knobs that they’d bought second-hand when I was five. We didn’t get many clear channels on that beast, which might be one reason why I fell for John Hurt rather than someone normal like Travolta, who was making girls weak-kneed as Vinnie Barbarino on Welcome Back, Kotter at the time. But it doesn’t explain why I was drawn in particular to the emperor Caligula, scourge of Rome, whose name is synonymous with cruelty and depravity and who did things in that series like declaring himself a god and impregnating his sister and then cutting the fetus out of her body and eating it. The show was heavily censored and one didn’t see… More…