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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She was struck by the selfish thought that this was not fair to her. That she’d been in the middle of a different story, one that had nothing to do with this. She was a person who was finding her daughter, making things right with her daughter, and there was no room in that story for the idiocy of extreme religion, the violence of men she’d never met. Just as she’d been in the middle of a story about divorce when the towers fell in New York City, throwing everyone’s careful plans to shit. Just as she’d once been in a story about raising her own brother, growing up with her brother in the city on their own, making it in the world, when the virus and the indifference of greedy men had steamrolled through. She thought of Nora, whose art and love were interrupted by assassination and war. Stupid men and their stupid violence, tearing apart everything good that was ever built. Why couldn’t you ever just go after your life without tripping over some idiot’s dick?
Art Director Jenn Boggs
Excerpt from The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Our country is the stage.
When soldiers march into town, public assemblies are officially prohibited. But today, neighbors flock to the piano music from Sonya and Alfonso’s puppet show in Central Square. Some of us have climbed up into trees, others hide behind benches and telegraph poles.
When Petya, the deaf boy in the front row, sneezes, the sergeant puppet collapses, shrieking. He stands up again, snorts, shakes his fist at the laughing audience.
An army jeep swerves into the square, disgorging its own Sergeant.
Disperse immediately! the puppet mimics in a wooden falsetto.
Everyone freezes except Petya, who keeps giggling. Someone claps a hand over his mouth. The Sergeant turns toward the boy, raising his finger.
You! the puppet raises a finger.
Sonya watches her puppet, the puppet watches the Sergeant, the Sergeant watches Sonya and Alfonso, but the rest of us watch Petya lean back, gather all the spit in his throat, and launch it at the Sergeant.
The sound we do not hear lifts the gulls off the water.
Editorial Intern Isabella Ciambotti
Excerpt from “Gunshot,” in Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky