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Week 4/12/20

PUBLISHED: April 20, 2020

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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Beyond the highway, about ten miles away, rise the talus slopes and vertical red walls of Dead Horse Mesa, a flat-topped uninhabited island in the sky which extends for thirty miles north and south between the convergent canyons of the Green and Colorado rivers. Public domain. Above the mesa the sun hangs behind streaks and streamers of wind-whipped clouds. More storms coming.

But for the time being, around my place at least, the air is untroubled, and I become aware for the first time today of the immense silence in which I am lost. Not a silence so much as a great stillness—for there are a few sounds: the creak of some bird in a juniper tree, an eddy of wind which passes and fades like a sigh, the ticking of the watch on my wrist—slight noises which break the sensation of absolute silence but at the same time exaggerate my sense of the surrounding, overwhelming peace. A suspension of time, a continuous present. If I look at the small device strapped to my wrist the numbers, even the sweeping second hand, seem meaningless, almost ridiculous. No travelers, no campers, no wanders have come to this part of the desert today and for a few moments I feel and realize that I am very much alone.

Business Manager Diane John
Excerpt from Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey


At first I stayed in a hotel—the Inn On The Park, the location for the famous story about me ringing the Rocket office and demanding they do something about the wind outside that was keeping me awake. This is obviously the ideal moment to state once and for all that this story is a complete urban myth, that I was never crazy enough to ask my record company to do something about the weather; that I was simply disturbed by the wind and wanted to change rooms to somewhere quieter. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that, because the story is completely true.

Editorial Intern Emily Sumlin
Excerpt from Me by Elton John


Reney’s bones can feel a fight long before the rest of her wakes to the rising voices and clattering bottles.

A good-time crew from the factory drift in and out of the house.

Like a cowboy from Waylon and Willie come to life, in saunters the jockey from Texas.

“He didn’t invent the pancake, you know,” Justine says as they pull into Granny and Lula’s driveway.

Reney gets up for a drink of water but stops at the foot of the stairs.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” Justine says.

They take her to Padlock Pizza to tell her they are getting married.

When her bones buzz her awake that night, all she hears is the gas heater’s low hiss.

Art Director Jenn Boggs
Excerpt(s) from The Year 2003 Minus 20 in our Spring issue


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