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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“[A] flame made solid, the intangible air, I don’t know what.
But that was the only thing that moved me. What interested me was the unknown, the idea that I might move out of my skin—not into intimacy, but into strangeness. I liked being anonymous in crowds. I liked walking into a restaurant, a movie theater, a concert, and buying a ticket or a meal by myself. I also liked the moment alone in a bar when someone would approach me, or I would approach him, before we knew anything about each other, an odd little dance of shadows. I liked the moment when I first saw him naked. Frequently, these men were boorish, the type who saw a woman sitting alone in a bar as an explicit invitation. But sometimes I laughed with him, for as long as I was interested, and left when I was bored. Or I followed him home. I tended not to take these men back to my own apartment. And I tended not to leave my phone number when I left. I slipped out like a ghost, like the woman in old wives’ tales who appears carrying a bundle of bloody clothing to warn of defeat in battle and impending catastrophe.
These nighttime adventures didn’t always end well, but still I always avoided the catastrophe.”
Executive Editor Allison Wright
Excerpt from “Annihilation” Virginia Quarterly Review, Celia Bell, Summer 2018
The image appears before us like something out of a bad dream. He is seated behind the Resolute desk, his Chiclet teeth exposed in a rictus of extreme jollity. She is standing slightly behind him, considerably more sombre. In buttoned-up black, her long, dark locks tumbling in abundant waves, she is Botticelli’s Venus as channelled by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark—an icon of the Calabasas Renaissance. Her pose is stiff, her jacket sleeves pushed up in a gesture of can-do, eighties-style power-dressing. The familiar colors of the Oval Office appear newly garish, as if reflecting back to us those posing against them: the golden drapes and the gold of the man’s hair, the salmon chair and his ruddy skin, the flowing flags and the woman’s flowing mane. In an era rife with unbelievability, here was another near-unbelievable moment: the reality-TV mogul Kim Kardashian meeting with the reality-TV mogul Donald J. Trump, at the White House—an “American Gothic” for the age of gaudy, late-capitalist spectacle.
Editorial Intern Anna Weigang
Excerpt from “Kim Kardashian Meeting Donald Trump In The Oval Office Is A Nightmare We Can’t Wake Up From” The New Yorker, Naomi Fry, May 31st, 2018
A few weeks before Memorial Day, fresh sod finally was laid over the loose dirt covering Noah at the Cavalry Cemetery in Virginia, a small graveyard that crested a gentle hill, opposite the hospital. His mother and sister, who split their time between here and the spot, had finished decorating veterans’ graves with flags. They sat cross-legged on Noah’s plot, quietly talking…
Sarah ran a fingernail through the etched letters on the headstone: I-r-a-q, she spelled aloud. “It doesn’t need to say anything else,” Cheryl said.
“Have you had the urge to dig?” Sarah asked her mother. “I started one day. God, I’m so glad that the grass is down now. I just wanted to check he was still down there.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Cheryl said, “that I’m so glad the grass is there, otherwise I’d be digging. Just to get to him, just to see him one more time.”
Office Manager Laura Plaia
Excerpt from “The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce” Virginia Quarterly Review, Ashley Gilbertson, Fall 2008