A year or so ago, I read an article about a Mississippi dad who'd lost two sons. In 2011, the man's 15-year-old was arrested for killing his younger brother with a deer rifle. Zac, the 15 year old, swore he hadn't pulled the trigger. His dad didn't believe him. Guns, he said, don't do that. Roger Stringer testified against his son, a testimony that helped send the teenager to prison. Then, in 2015, Roger found out guns CAN do that. The article was a short brief, an update in the boy's case. But I couldn't stop wondering what the father must feel like now, so I called him. We started talking on the phone once a month, then once a week. Eventually, I flew down to Mississippi to meet him.
I feel so lucky to have gotten to write “His Only Living Boy,” a longform piece that tells their story. I learned a ton about guns and family, about what it means to love and believe in things. I'm especially grateful to Roger, a "typical gun-loving redneck," who made me laugh and cry in equal measure. Working on this piece felt like going home in all the ways I needed this year. I also got to team up again with Tali Woodward, a genius editor who is always righting my ship.
Longreads named the piece, which ran in both The Trace and in Mississippi Today, one of the best stories of 2018.