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Week 7/19/20

PUBLISHED: July 27, 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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At other times she hears the screams of children playing on the wind when she and Sam are quite alone. What makes a ghost a ghost? Can a person be haunted by herself?

Editorial Assistant Suzie Eckl
Excerpt from How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang


From Portland, Oregon, to New York City, protesters once again took to the streets in a rejection of racist state violence. There was some kind of symmetry here: Lewis was gone, but his legacy was alive.

And it’s because of this connection—even as Lewis’s congressional politics may not always have aligned with the movements that stood on his shoulders, he believed in the moral necessity of putting your body on the line for justice—that so many of the remembrances being published right now are rightly being ridiculed for their ahistorical superficiality.

You had the obvious offenders, like Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Dan Sullivan who shared photos of Elijah Cummings in social media posts meant to memorialize Lewis. Or Mitch McConnell paying tribute after a career in Congress spent dismantling and undermining Lewis’s life’s work. But there is something subtler in the slow dissemination of hagiography in cable news and mainstream media tributes that performs the same function of co-opting a radical legacy in service of a snuggly sound bite or social media post.

White Americans of both parties tend to like their radicals this way: silenced in death, their legacies newly malleable to all kinds of political contortions.

Assistant Editor Heidi Siegrist
Excerpt from “John Lewis’s ‘Good Trouble’ Is Happening in the Streets Right Now” in the New Republic


Standing in front of the mirror, Ramón opened his mouth like an angry baboon confronting his own reflection. Though he tried to see down his throat, the dim light in the bathroom at La Montejo, his favorite cantina, failed to reach the spot where he was experiencing a pain so searing and exquisite it made a gallstone seem like and insignificant country cousin. He knew as he closed his mouth that the pain would make it impossible to eat the spicy pork sandwich he’d just ordered. He straightened this tie bitterly, turned his back on his reflection, and left the bathroom. A client awaited him at their table, where they were about to celebrate the favorable outcome of an administrative hearing. Ramón summoned the waiter and asked him to pack up the sandwich to go and bring him a chicken lime soup. He felt unpleasant spasms in his tongue as he spoke. He would have to be stingy with his words, and tolerate the dismal soup the waiter brought him instead.

Before they began to eat, the client raised his tequila to toast their triumph in court. “Your health,” Ramón replied, never suspecting that the next morning he would wake with a paralyzed tongue, unable to form the consonants needed to utter those happy words again.

Business Manager Diane John
Excerpt from The Mutations by Jorge Comensal


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