Hiding in Plain Sight: Looking Behind Our Masks


Autumn is a slow death. Every hint of the flourishing life of summer falls away, no longer covering what’s underneath. Leafy branches become fingers clawing the sky. Lawns once green now bare brown heads. I live in Iowa, and know that soon snow will come and tuck away nature until spring. But, for now, we begin to see clearly: patches of dirt, dying flowers, tired houses, yawning garages.

2017 has ripped away artifice from the face of America. What we want to believe our country is, how we want it to be, is no match for the hemorrhaging reality of it. We can’t ignore the true face of America. This this has never been more evident than today, as we learn about the terrorism in Las Vegas. It’s tempting to look away from horror; it’s how we are made and how we survive. But it is also how fear keeps us trapped. In order to stop being scared, we have to see horror for what it is. We have to look behind the mask.

This October, we chose the theme, “Hiding in Plain Sight.” We have collected an amazing lineup of essays, short stories, book reviews, poems, and interviews to run throughout the month that lift off masks and reveal what’s been underneath all along. There are murders, serial killers, abusive relationships, mental illness, sex work, lifelong secrets, and, of course, Hooters. We hope you will follow along and share these pieces with the hashtag #masks2017.

But please also remember, the scariest things often don’t bother with hiding. They sit right there in front of us. They hold the highest offices in the land.


Feature image via Creative Commons.

Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →