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February 22, 2024

  • Danez Smith at AWP
    Richard Saker/Contour by Getty Images As we end Black History Month, here is one of my favorite poets, Danez Smith, who writes on intersectionality between their Black and Queer identities. At the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City, MO, I had the opportunity to personally meet Smith, and they are […]
  • Lying in Memoir
    Lauren Slater crafts diligent, depictive metaphors in narrative, and I hate her writing, simultaneously. Should there be lying in memoir? In her book, Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir (2000), Slater crafts lies from epilepsy to nunneries to doctor visits and proposed peer reviewed theses to AA meetings. However, within these lies, she allows us to question […]
Spring Housing Guide

Student talks about alcohol

Matthew Pearlstone was a freshman at Cornell University. He graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High in St. Louis and had lived in Creve Coeur, Mo.

He was smart, genius-smart. He was a teen who glided through Ladue Horton Watkins High and into the Ivy League with near-perfect grades and a star SAT score. He was also a super-achiever who played water polo, ran marathons and had plenty of friends.

So what happened that night in March to Matthew Pearlstone, 19, is made only more unsettling and difficult to understand in the haunting light of the words he left behind, words that reverberated across the country.

Pearlstone, in his freshman year at Cornell, died from drinking. Details of what happened during his visit with a friend at the University of Virginia remain murky. Campus police this week closed their seven-week investigation with no evidence of any wrongdoing. His death was ruled a case of accidental alcohol poisoning. On Friday, the University declined to release the police report.

But Pearlstone left behind dozens of online messages that delved into his drinking habits, providing a rare glimpse into the thinking of a boy on the cusp of being a man. He was well-versed in the dangers of alcohol. He clearly did not drink thoughtlessly. He intellectualized it. He defended and defined it with the same brilliance he brought to academics.

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