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From the VQR Vault: Appetite & Hunger


ISSUE:  Spring 2015

All around her, we sounded melons, practiced
at hearing what we couldn’t see, pretending not
to notice when she stopped at the stall where the Amish

displayed their loaves of zucchini and pumpkin bread,
hand-thick oatmeal cookies, pecan pies—
all wrapped in plastic—airless, preserving.

Claudia Emerson, “Anorexic, Farmers’ Market,” Summer 2006

When it was ready they carried the food on platters into the dining room, where bright sun pouring from the open windows showed the full disorder. The split-bottom chairs were scattered about, one on its side. Dishes on the table held remnants of anchovy sandwiches, about which, without much interest, a large fly buzzed. All sorts of glasses cluttered the sideboard, the mantelpiece, and the uneven stone hearth before the dead fireplace. “My God,” she breathed, balancing the platter of ham, “my God, why do people have parties?” Then, with nervous angular gestures she set the platter down, swept off one end of the table, and laid two plates.

Robert Penn Warren, “Her Own People,” Spring 1935

Cassius might have had a lean and hungry look, but not because of famine. Not merely in comedies, but in tragedies, histories, and romances as well, the Shakespearean universe is a bountiful buffet in which much of the dramatic business is advanced at banquets or while characters are otherwise chomping and quaffing or else chewing over food and drink in high-caloric iambic pentameter. Unlike Malvolio, Shakespeare does not count himself virtuous enough to dispense with cakes and ale, and he usually stocks his stage with enough edibles to outdo the costermongers peddling in the pit.

Steven G. Kellman, “Food Fights in Iowa: The Vegetarian Stranger in Recent Midwest Fiction,” Summer 1995

Whether the American people have a perverted or debased appetite for devitalized mental food is at least open to debate. Perhaps it has. It is well known that children, left to themselves will ignore most of the essential vegetables and concentrate upon chocolates and lollipops. And it is to this very weakness in human nature, for sucking lollipops throughout life, that the vendors of oversweet philosophies cater.

Joseph Collins, “Syndicated Philosophies,” Winter 1926

“I would like to die,” she said languidly, from where she lay on her couch. Annie sat cross-legged in the big chair nearby. Her grandmother drew in the air with her finger. “I would like to close my eyes right now and pass away.” She lifted her head of white hair and looked over at Annie. “I’m blue,” she added. She put her head back down. 
“I’d miss you,” said Annie. It was a Saturday and it had snowed all day, the flakes big and wet and thick, sticking to the lower windowpanes in curves.
“You wouldn’t. You only come over here to get a piece of candy. You have a brother and a sister to talk to. I don’t know why the three of you don’t play together.”
“We’re not in the appetite.” Annie had once asked her brother to play cards and he had said he was not in the appetite. She picked at a hole in her sock. 

Elizabeth Strout, “Snow Blind,” Spring 2013

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