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Essays

Photo by Gary Honis

Night Moves

July 5, 2016

In "Night Moves," Amanda Petrusich visits Cherry Springs State Park, a Pennsylvania swath of night sky, where light pollution and fracking threaten the existence of one of the darkest places in America.

If Everything Is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?

October 5, 2015

When I talk to my students about living for compassion, they tend to be quite interested. But few of them have ever contemplated this sort of life before. Like the life of courage and the life of thought, the life of compassion seems to be receding in our culture. People don’t talk much about ideals any more. We don’t usually offer them as viable options to the young.

The Southwesternization of the American Palate

June 17, 2015

Barrow, Alaska, is about as far from anywhere in North America as it’s possible to get: hard by the Beaufort Sea, 720 miles from Anchorage, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC, 1,100 miles from the North Pole. Yet, until very recently, it was possible to stumble across taiga and tundra and find, there in the heart of the town, a Mexican restaurant.

Woman exiting cab, Upper East Side, New York.

Due North

September 30, 2014

“Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked, [Michel de Certeau] wrote. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibiliti [...]

An American Humanitarian Crisis?

June 23, 2014

The surge in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the US border is so alarming that President Barack Obama described it as “an urgent humanitarian situation.” Following the president’s comments, the federal government announced a $2 million legal-aid program to help provide legal assistance to these kids, who normally must navigate the immigration-court system without representation. Given the overwhelming number of these kids, how far can $2 million go?

Literature Is Not the Same Thing as Publishing

May 23, 2014

This past January, I stood in the snow across the street from Matt’s Bar with a dozen fellow Minneapolitans, shivering in the subzero wind chill, as a short film was projected on the side of the building—five atmospheric minutes of people walking [...]

Loss, Betrayal, and Inaccuracy: A Translator’s Handbook

February 19, 2014

I create bridges from the Italian language to English, hoping to convey enough of the magic of the original to draw in overcommitted American readers. We might compare the shift from one language to another to the ineffable singularity that Marcel Pr [...]

Seventy-Two Hours on the Future of Publishing (Day 2)

October 11, 2013

VQR’s web editor, Jane Friedman, is at Frankfurt Book Fair this week participating in a seventy-two-hour project to write a book on the future of publishing. Read her earlier post on Day 1, as well as Is Self-Publishing the Most Importa [...]

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