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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My most constant and vivid memory is not so much of the people but of the actual house in Aracataca where I lived white my grandparents. It’s a recurring dream which persists even now. What’s more, every single day of my life I wake up with the feeling, real or imaginary, that I’ve dreamt I’m in that huge old house. Not that I’ve gone back there, but that I amthere, at no particular age, for no particular reason - as if I’d never left it. Even now in my dreams that sense of night-time foreboding which dominated my whole childhood still persists. It was an uncontrollable sensation which began early every evening and gnawed away at me in my sleep until I saw dawn breaking through the cracks in the door. I can’t define it very well, but I think that sense of foreboding was rooted in the fact that, at night, all my grandmother’s phantoms, portents and invocations took shape. That was our relationship, a kind of invisible thread keeping us both in touch with the world of the supernatural. During the day my grandmother’s magic world fascinated me - I was absorbed in it, it was my world. But at night it terrified me. Even now when I’m asleep alone in a strange hotel in some part of the world, I often wake up in a panic, shaken by this terrible fear of being alone in the dark, and it always takes me several minutes to calm down and go back to sleep. My grandfather, on the other hand, represented absolute security in my grandmother’s uncertain world. My anxieties disappeared when he was there. I felt I was on firm ground again, back in the real world. The strange thing was that I wanted to be like my grandfather - realistic, brave, safe - but I could not resist the constant temptation to peep into my grandmother’s territory.
Paul Reyes, Editor
Excerpt from The Fragrance of Guava by Gabriel García Márquez, translated by Ann Wright
Woods explains that law enforcement typically splits gang activity into three groups: white supremacist prison gangs, outlaw biker clubs and criminal street gangs. He concluded that systemic racism often keeps white gangs categorized as prison and biker groups instead of street gangs – the category drawing the toughest charges and sentences.
This means white gangs are not typically policed as stringently, he writes, and their members can miss interventions sometimes offered to more publicized gangs of color. That help can include job and life skills training, or interaction with trained “violence interrupters”, who are often former gang members.
Woods blames the media for underreporting white gangs. He backs up Ivey’s point about this lack of attention, writing that media may be more prone to cover black and Hispanic gangs “because of consumer demands for stories of sensationalized racial gang violence”.
Graphic Designer Jenn Boggs
Excerpt from “Dangerous, growing, yet unnoticed: The rise of America’s white gangs,” The Guardian, Donna Ladd, April 5, 2018
Out of the corner of my eye I watched you pick up your backpack, slowly put away your books, and leave. When the signing was over I couldn’t get the fuck away from Amherst, from you and your question, fast enough. I ran the way I’ve always run. Like death itself was chasing me. For a couple of days afterward I fretted; I worried that I’d given myself away. But then the old oblivion reflex took over. I pushed it all down. Buried it all. Like always.
But I never really did forget. Not our exchange or your disappointment. How you walked out of the auditorium with your shoulders hunched.
I know this is years too late, but I’m sorry I didn’t answer you. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the truth. I’m sorry for you, and I’m sorry for me. We both could have used that truth, I’m thinking. It could have saved me (and maybe you) from so much. But I was afraid. I’m still afraid—my fear like continents and the ocean between—but I’m going to speak anyway, because, as Audre Lorde has taught us, my silence will not protect me.
Editorial Intern Maeve Hickey
Excerpt from “The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma,” The New Yorker, Junot Díaz, April 16, 2018 Issue