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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…Hildy seemed to process nothing. Her face was fixed with the same simple smile and her eyes never left the floor. Mercer told herself that Hildy recognized her voice, but she wasn’t sure. In fact, she wasn’t sure why she even bothered with the visits.
Guilt. Connie could forget about their mother but Mercer felt guilty for not visiting more often.
Five years had passed since Hildy had spoken to her. Back then, she had recognized her, uttered her name, and even thanked her for stopping by. Months later, Hildy had turned loud and angry during a visit and a nurse intervened. Mercer often wondered if the medication was now juiced a bit more when they knew she was coming.
According to Tessa, as a young teenager Hildy had loved the poetry of Emily Dickinson. So Tessa, who visited her daughter often during the early years of her commitment, had always read poetry to her. Back then Hildy would listen and react, but over the years her condition had deteriorated.
“How about some poetry, Mom?” Mercer asked as she pulled out a thick, worn copy of Collected Poems. It was the same book Tessa had brought to Eastern State for years. Mercer pulled over a rocking chair and sat close to the bed.
Hildy smiled as she read and said nothing.
Office Manager Laura Plaia
Excerpt from Camino Island, by John Grisham
But I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren, is that they will take their fee from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on that ground which God designed us to occupy….All history attests that man has subjected woman to his will, used her as a means to promote his selfish gratification, to minister to his sensual pleasures, to be instrumental in promoting his comfort; but never has he desired to elevate her to that rank she was created to fill. He has done all he could do to debase and enslave her mind; and now he looks triumphantly on the ruin he has wrought, and says, the being he has thus deeply injured is his inferior.
Editorial Assistant Heidi Siegrist
Excerpt from Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, by Sarah Grimké
All the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born. But before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I don’t know why, but I do know that the universe never began.
Make no mistake, I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort.
As long as I have questions and no answers I’ll keep on writing. How do you start at the beginning, if things happen before they happen? If before the pre-prehistory there were already the apocalyptic monsters? If this story doesn’t exist now, it will. Thinking is an act. Feeling is a fact. Put the two together—I am the one writing what I am writing. God is the world. Truth is always an interior and inexplicable contact. My truest life is unrecognizable, extremely interior and there is not a single word that defines it. My heart has emptied itself of every desire and been reduced to its own final or primary beat. The toothache that runs through this story has given me a sharp stab in the middle of our mouth. So high-pitched I sing a strident and syncopated melody—it’s my own pain, I who carry the world and there is a lack of happiness.
Editorial Intern Dan Goff
Excerpt from The Hour of the Star, by Clarice Lispector