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.
Click here for access to the complete project archive
We were poor, but the beach was ours. It was a space I felt more ownership over, more belonging in, than any apartment or town I’d lived in up to that point. Standing in the water, jumping full into the tumult of waves–it was the physical manifestation of the chaos of living in poverty, except when I surrendered to the water, I could come back up for air, wet and sputtering but made alive by the crashing all around me.
It is a strange thing to walk along a beach and feel unwelcome. I’ve only felt it a few times–once while walking with a friend through Cherry Grove on Fire Island: a watching from the white people around us and then my friend saying, “They didn’t sell homes to black people or people of color here.” How strange–this ownership of a space that is full of possibilities, that exists between two worlds, the land and the sea.
Social Media Manager Sydney Bradley
Excerpt from “We Were Poor, But the Beach Was Ours” in SIERRA Magazine by Kaitlyn Greenidge
West’s audience—his curated guests, his festival acolytes—has been primed by our cultural moment to overlook the deep bleakness of invite-only worship, of a two-hundred-and-twenty-five-dollar bleach-stained sweatshirt that’s supposed to promote God and Kanye at the same time. But, even worse, many of them are surely drawn to Sunday Service out of some sort of meaningful longing: these young people who can afford to pay four figures to behave badly and photograph well in the desert are pursuing absolution, too, in their way. So many things today seem, upon reflection, like a cry for help disguised as a demonstration of cultural capital. At his most courageous, West has seemed hallowed because of how purely he expressed a real hunger. In 2008, he recorded a live album in London, with an all-female string orchestra, called “Late Orchestration,” which includes a rendition of “Jesus Walks.” I’ve been rewatching that performance. It’s sublime and agonized, and full of the sort of miraculous devotion that I used to hear about in church.
Editorial Intern Bel Banta
Excerpt from “Kanye West’s Sunday Service Is Full of Longing and Self-Promotion” in the New Yorker by Jia Tolentino