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 the afternoon wore on, men started disappearing from our party. One by one their hawks had decided they wanted no more of proceedings, saw no good reason to return to their handlers, and instead sat in trees staring out over acres of fading pasture and wood, fluffed and implacable. At the end of the day we left with three fewer men and three fewer hawks, the former still waiting beneath their hawks’ respective branches. I knew goshawks were prone to sulk in trees: all the books had told me so. ‘No matter how tame and lovable,’ I’d read in Franklin Illingworth’s Falcons and Falconry, ‘there are days when a goshawk displays a peculiar disposition. She is jumpy, fractious, unsociable. She may develop the symptoms of passing madness during an afternoon sport, and then the falconer is in for hours of annoyance.’
Art Director Jenn Boggs
Excerpt from H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I picked him up and set him against the steering wheel, facing me, his feet on my thighs. The huge lament continued, wave on wave. It was a sound so large and pure I could almost listen to it, try consciously to apprehend it, as one sets up a mental register in a concert hall of theater. He was not sniveling or blubbering. He was crying out, saying nameless things in a way that touched me with its depth and richness. This was an ancient dirge all the more impressive for its resolute monotony. Ululation. I held him upright with a hand under each arm. As the crying continued, a curious shift developed in my thinking. I found that I did not necessarily wish him to stop. It might not be so terrible, I thought, to have to sit and listen to this a while longer. We looked at each other. Behind that dopey countenance, a complex intelligence operated. I held him with one hand, using the other to count fingers inside the mittens, aloud, in German. The inconsolable crying went on. I let it wash over me, like rain in sheets.
Audio Intern Sydney Halleman
Excerpt from White Noise by Don DeLillo
A particular joy of good weather, an amiable lightness I easily succumb to. I go into the Saint-Germain church where boys are singing. Communion perhaps. There is a solemn delight in the air and I feel a familiar desire to receive the body of Christ but do not join them. Instead I light a candle for my loved ones and the parents who lost children at Bataclan. The candles flicker before Saint Anthony holding a babe, both covered with decades of delicate graffiti that make them seem alive, animated by the inscribed pleas of the living.
I take a last walk up the Rue de Seine, or is it down? I don’t know, I just walk. There is the odd familiarity that keeps tugging at me. A long-ago sense of things. Yes. I have been on this same path with my sister. I stop and look at the narrow lane of Rue Visconti. I had so thrilled at my first sight of it that I ran the length and jumped in the air. My sister took a picture and in it I see myself, forever frozen in air full of joy. It seems a small miracle to reconnect with all that adrenaline, all that will.
Editor Paul Reyes
Excerpt from Devotion by Patti Smith