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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As he hastily slipped on his espadrilles, color rising in his cheeks, Frank said to him, You’ve just slept with one of the world’s greatest writers, and because Mario had heard of Tennessee Williams, he stayed for the coffee and pastries Frank brought onto the terrace. Soon Mario grew tiresome, as they all did, talking of his mother, who expected him home, who worried—there was always a mother—and they watched with relief as he and his tight elbows descended the stairs.
He wasn’t the first Mario, of course. Over the years, they forgot their names, but not their scars or their attitudes or the stories they told as they lay between them late into the night. Sometimes, on their evening walks, the streets sultry and flickering with shadows, they’d spot one of the Marios in a piazza with his pack of friends, laughing, his arm slung over a girl’s shoulder. If the Mario noticed them, he’d turn his face away or shoot back a look of defiance and shame and fear, which enlarged them.
They left Rome like this, big as elephants, the heat and storms behind them, the top down on the Jag, for Portofino. Frank slept most of the way, his head on Tenn’s lap, and then again on the skiff from Rapallo, though Tenn kept nudging him awake to point out the houses on the cliffs. You like the orange? he asked. The yellow? No, that blue, up top! I’m shopping, Frankie. Any of these can be ours.
Executive Editor Allison Wright
Excerpt from Leading Men by Christopher Castellani
She rose and walked over to me. She was tall, taller than most men, taller than even the lionskin roamers of the savannah who jump to the sky. Her dress reached the ground and spread so that it looked like she glided over. And this-beautiful. Dark skin, without blemish and smelling of shea butter. Darker lips as if fed tobacco as a child, eyes so deep they were black, a strong face as chipped out of stone, but smooth as if done by a master. And the hair, wild and sprouting in every direction as if fleeing her head. Shea butter, which I already said, but something else, something I knew from that night, something that hid itself from me. Something I know. I wondered where the Leopard went.
Editorial Intern Bel Banta
Excerpt from Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
The egg is the soul of the chicken. The awkward chicken. The reliable egg. The terrified chicken. The reliable egg. Like a stationary missile. For the egg is an egg in space. The egg above the blue. —Egg, I love you. I love you like a thing that does not even know that it loves another thing. —I do not touch it. It is the aura of my fingers that sees the egg. I do not touch it. —But to dedicate myself to the vision of the egg would be to renounce my worldly existence, and I need both the yolk and the white. —The egg sees me. Does the egg idealize me? Does the egg contemplate me? No, the egg only sees me. It is immune to harmful understanding. —The egg has never struggled. It is a gift. —The egg is invisible to the naked eye. —From egg to egg, one arrives at God, Who is invisible to the naked eye. Perhaps the egg was once a triangle which rolled so far into space that it gradually became oval. —Is the egg essentially a vessel? Perhaps the first vessel modelled by the Etruscans? No. The egg originated from Macedonia.
Social Media Intern Sydney Bradley
Excerpt from “The Egg and the Chicken” in The Foreign Legion by Clarice Lispector