This issue includes “The Battle of and for the Black Face Boy,” a radical libretto by Nikky Finney; a profile of a transgender drug counselor who lives on the border of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, by Jonathan Blitzer; John T. Edge’s exploration of Southern theme restaurants; and more.
It’s humid in Alabama. On a makeshift sandlot pitcher’s mound, a lanky kid begins his wind-up to the tune of a song he alone can hear. It’s a lilting number, chaotic and beautiful, clarinets and fiddles weaving intricately. He lifts his arms above his head. He could be the greatest ever, the poet laureate of baseball, he thinks—then he smiles, takes a deep breath, and delivers another swinging strike.