Real Life is on winter break. In the meantime we’ve put together four themed SPECIAL ISSUES for your consideration from essays we published this past year. Below is the third of these packages, on memory. Click the image for a pdf. We’ll be returning in the new year. Thanks for reading!

My parents own a big Rubbermade bucket filled with hundreds of loose-leaf family photographs. It has survived multiple basements and multiple basement floods. While the storage method leaves the photographs vulnerable to the elements, it also makes the act of remembering more dynamic, and keeps the memory fit. No two pictures ever follow in the same order and you never know what the next image will prompt. Most of the photos I’ve taken on my own are stored with services that make them arrangeable, reproducible, and public, with options. Some I took to capture the moment, and others, more and more, because the moment called for them. This form of storage is sturdier, but it leaves them at the mercy of elements less predictable than mold, and turns things infinite that were meant to be finite. Not all images are meant to be memories, but the technological systems we increasingly tend to default to for archiving don’t know the difference.—Alexandra Molotkow, Editor


“Off the Map,” by Marisol García Wells

“Faded Pictures,” by Kristen Martin

“External Memory,” by Madeleine Monson-Rosen

“Instant Recall,” by Molly Sauter