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Week 5/17/21

PUBLISHED: May 22, 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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Something definitely dug Harley up. That’s the only way it could have gone. Coyotes, probably, but a badger will scavenge as well. He doesn’t want to picture the long-headed shape of a woman out there on her knees at three in the morning pulling the ground open, but not wanting to have to see it just cleans the focus on that image up, pretty much.

Lucas is puking into the sink before he even realizes he’s gagging. It’s not from nerves about Shaney, he tells himself. It’s from thinking about what Harley must look like now.

When he’s done throwing up he turns the disposal on and a chunk spits back up at him and he falls down in the kitchen trying to get away.

“You’re doing great,” he tells himself from the floor. You’re completely ready, Blackfeet.”

It’s the first time he’s ever called himself that.

Reader Jacqui Shine
Excerpt from The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones


Entire branches of my family are simply missing. No one would tell me why. I thought this was normal.

Once I was older, once I could see the outline of what was not, I could look for the Other that filled the space. I saw its face in the stories that my parents would tell me. My father, learning to read English in his dirt-floor classroom, pushed unfamiliar syllables through his tongue by repeating the sentence: “Long live Chairman Mao. Long live Chairman Mao.” My father, a literary man, thought that George Orwell’s Animal Farm was appropriate bedtime reading for a five-year-old. My father, looking at my dormitory poster of the man facing down the tanks at Tiananmen Square, murmured quietly, “I was there.”

You stop the haunting through a conjuring. We already know this from every Hollywood ghost story. The specter can be dealt with only in one way: to give it being, to make it heard and seen.

Editorial Intern Melissa Zhu
“How to Talk to Ghosts,” by R.F. Kuang, in Uncanny Magazine


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