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Week 8/30/20

PUBLISHED: September 9, 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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Coming to realize that you haven’t read all the things you wanted to read with the many idle months of quarantine? Two hundred words will get you far this week—catch up quickly with Long Story Short, a book of comics that sums up classic and popular works of literature in just three panels. Enjoy some previews of the book’s contents via this Buzzfeed News article…

Associate Editor Alex Brock


He breaks off, snickers, and then does so again, until it is a steady chuckle. And now his Lordship is laughing, the sort of laughter that comes straight from the gut, strong and insistent, louder and louder until he’s doubled up, roaring in full-throated merriment. Beside Apa, Captain Bolton is leaning against a chair, tears streaming down his cheeks as he laughs. Around him, the others are laughing too, different tenors and pitches, but all laughing as loudly as they can, breaking off only to cough or splutter before they go back to shrieking in mirth. They’re on the ground now, all of them, still laughing, spittle flying everywhere. Neck muscles knot, veins bulge, first in foreheads, and then everywhere else across their pale, now-sallow skin. Some are trying to shield their ears, but to no avail, the laughter keeps spilling out of them, bursting forth, as juice from the overripe mango fallen from the tree. And loudest of all, rising above the cacophony of their cumulative cachinnations, is the cackling tone of the putul, as it forces them, one by one, to match its tempo, faster and faster.

“I hope you are all enjoying yourselves,” Apa says in Bangla.

They don’t understand her, and yet they do; she can see the terror in their eyes now, faces contorting in horror as they realise what is happening and how utterly powerless they are to do anything about it. Anything but look at her with supplication in those very eyes, as she smiles back at each of them in turn. As Apa watches, a crimson stain slowly spreads out across the carpet; one of them has hit his or her head. Another has stopped laughing, Hadley, his eyes now staring sightlessly up at the chandelier. One down. Everyone else to go.

Reader Jacqui Shine
Excerpt from “And Now His Lordship Is Laughing” in Strange Horizons


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