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Week of 4/22/18

PUBLISHED: April 24, 2018


In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.

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The media that young women and gay men enjoy is often dismissed as campy or trashy or culturally lightweight because as a demographic, girls and gays tend not to be taken seriously without “earning it.” For that, we can thank a patriarchal culture that continually undermines anything that might be considered “feminine”; for example, Sex and the City might have become synonymous with shoes and clothes and cosmopolitans (and there’s nothing wrong with any of those things), but when it first aired, the idea of women talking about their own bodies and desires on TV was practically unheard of, and it ended up popularizing an entire sex-positive taxonomy (I’m a total Samantha, btw). We can’t ignore the fact that there is a lens through which many of us are encouraged to view art: The work created by and targeted toward men is perceived as inherently good, and art historically geared toward women is seen as innately feminine and therefore frivolous and not worthy of analysis.

Editorial Intern Kate Snyder
Excerpt from “The Problem With ‘Not Caring’ About Pop Culture,” Man Repeller, Phillip Ellis, April 9, 2018


the plants. Drink
plenty of water.
Don’t hear
the news. Get
bored. Complain
about the weather.
Keep a corkscrew
in your purse.
Swipe right
Don’t smile
unless you want
to. Sleep in.
Don’t see the news.
Remember what
the world is like
for white people.
Listen to
cricket songs.
Floss. Take pills.
Keep an
empty mind.
When you are
do not say
I’m never drinking
again. Be honest
when you’re up
to it. Otherwise
drink water
lie to yourself
turn off the news
burn the papers
skip the funerals
take pills
laugh at dumb shit
fuck people you
don’t care about
use the crockpot
use the juicer
use the smoothie maker
drink water
from the sky
don’t think
too much about the sky
don’t think about water
skip the funerals
close your eyes
whenever possible
When you toast
look everyone in the eyes
Never punctuate
the President
Write the news
into water
the fire escape
Burn the paper
Crumble the letters
Instead of
hyacinths pick
Water the hydrangeas
Wilt the news
White the hydrangeas
Drink the white
Waterfall the
cricket songs
Keep a song mind
Don’t smile
Don’t wilt

Editorial Assistant Heidi Siegrist
Excerpt from “If You Are Over Staying Woke,” Poetry Foundation, Morgan Parker, 2015


The Lacks cousins don’t remember much about the service – they figure there were some words, probably a song or two. But they all remember what happened next. As Cliff and Fred lowered Henrietta’s coffin into her grave and began covering her with handfuls of dirt, the sky turned black as strap molasses. The rain fell thick and fast. Then came long rumbling thunder, screams from the babies, and a blast of wind so strong it tore the metal roof off the barn below the cemetery and sent it flying through the air above Henrietta’s grave, its long metal slopes flapping like the wings of a giant silver bird. The wind caused fires that burned tobacco fields. It ripped trees from the ground, blew power lines out for miles, and tore one Lacks cousin’s wooden cabin clear out of the ground, threw him from the living room into his garden, then landed on top of him, killing him instantly.

Years later, when Henrietta’s cousin Peter looked back on that day, he just shook his bald head and laughed: “Hennie never was what you’d call a beatin-around-the-bush woman,” he said. “We shoulda knew she was tryin to tell us something with that storm.”

Office Manager Laura Plaia
Excerpt from The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot


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