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Week 3/22/21

PUBLISHED: March 28, 2021

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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Everyone’s mother is mythological: her body the origin of existence and consciousness, her house the pimped-out crib of Zeus, her mistakes the cause of everything. Holy her rosebushes, holy her blackjack system, her London broil holy. My mother, the godhead of 7 Dwight Drive, rose daily from here bed to quaff her Tropicana orange juice and to slay the New York Times crossword puzzle. She survived a difficult childhood, my father’s high jinks, two heart attacks, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, surgery for diverticulosis, and the many poor decisions and inappropriate outfits of her daughters. She certainly did not believe a clot in her lung could bring her down, that smoking for sixty-five years would actually cause lung cancer, or that lung cancer was definitely fatal. The last thing she did before she took to her bed was win a golf tournament. Clearly the subprime crisis, the market crash, Hurricane Sandy, and even Donald Trump were biding their time until she was out of the way.

Editor Paul Reyes
Excerpt from The Baltimore Book of the Dead, by Marion Winik


I did not tell him my decision; that would have broken my will. I did not wait to have breakfast with him but only drank some coffee and made an excuse to go home. I knew the excuse did not fool Joey; but he did not know how to protest or insist; he did not know that this was all he needed to have done. Then I, who had not seen him that summer nearly every day till then, no longer went to see him. He did not come to see me. I would have been very happy to see him if he had, but the manner of my leave-taking had begun a constriction, which neither of us knew how to arrest. When I finally did see him, more or less by accident, near the end of the summer, I made up a long and totally untrue story about a girl I was going with and when school began again I picked up with a rougher, older crowd and was very nasty to Joey. And the sadder this made him, the nastier I Became. He moved away at last, out of the neighborhood, away from our school, and I never saw him again. I began, perhaps, to be lonely that summer and began, that summer, the flight which has brought me to this darkened window.

Editorial Intern Ishani Singh
Excerpt from Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin


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