“Good Fences”

Guernica, July 2009

While building a tree house with his father, the author at twelve begins to understand the politics at play in the backyards of his suburb. Listed among the Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, 2010.

One Saturday in August 1962, perched high in a maple tree in our backyard, I handed my father a nail. We were building a tree house. I was twelve. My brother Hugh, who was about to turn nine, stood below us on the ground, sending boards up with a pulley and standing clear in case we dropped something.