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Week of 6/10/18

PUBLISHED: June 16, 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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I thought back to myself as a book-obsessed preteen under the covers in the middle of the night, reading by flashlight about rape in the Wild West, about death in WWII trenches, and about slavery in the American South—girls my age being whipped by white overseers, being forced to eat maggots in the cotton fields. As an adolescent, one of the reasons I learned to cherish literature was that in addition to its heights of beauty and exultation, reading exposed me to various kinds of pain and trauma—took me far into the darkness of human life, a place I felt it was necessary to go. I tried to articulate this to the group. “I guess I’ve always believed that artists create or re-create terrible events to allow people a window into things that they themselves haven’t experienced, so that they can go forth from the work knowing more about this world, and live their lives as more empathetic people,” I said. “That exposure is something I expect from literature.”

Editorial Intern Tess Steele
Excerpt from “The News From the World of Beauty,” Virginia Quarterly Review, Hannah Louise Postam, Summer 2018


It’s more like the sound
a doe makes
when the arrowhead
replaces the day
with an answer to the rib’s
hollowed hum. We saw it coming
but kept walking through the hole
in the garden. Because the leaves
were bright green & the fire
only a pink brushstroke
in the distance. It’s not
about the light—but how dark
it makes you depending
on where you stand.
Depending on where you stand
his name can appear like moonlight
shredded in a dead dog’s fur.
His name changed when touched
by gravity. Gravity breaking
our kneecaps just to show us
the sky. We kept saying Yes—
even with all those birds.
Who would believe us
now? My voice cracking
like bones inside the radio.
Silly me. I thought love was real
& the body imaginary.
But here we are—standing
in the cold field, him calling
for the girl. The girl
beside him. Frosted grass
snapping beneath her hooves.

Editorial Intern Sydney Bradley
Eurydice,” The Nation, Ocean Vuong, January 2014



There was one question that the judge and the prosecutors and the defense never asked the jurors but that was central to the proceedings: Would a jury of twelve white men ever punish another white man for killing an American Indian? One skeptical reporter noted, “The attitude of a pioneer cattleman toward the full-blood Indian…is fairly well recognized.” A prominent member of the Osage tribe put the matter more bluntly: “It is a question in my mind whether this jury is considering a murder case or not. The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder—or merely cruelty to animals.” 

Graphic Designer Jenn Boggs
Excerpt from Killers of the Flow Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann


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