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Week 6/28/21

PUBLISHED: July 2, 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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Gwen Goldman has adored the Yankees for her entire life.

Her favorite player was the Hall of Fame outfielder Mickey Mantle. Her father used to take her to games as a girl, days she remembers now as a special time for the two of them to bond. When she was away at camp each summer, he would include clippings from The New York Times in his letters so she could stay up-to-date on her team.

So when she was 10, Goldman wrote the Yankees a letter asking to serve as their bat girl, the person responsible for helping to retrieve bats and fulfill other tasks during a game. But in the letter she received back, dated June 12, 1961, the Yankees’ general manager at the time, Roy Hamey, told her no.

Girls, he said, did not belong in the dugout.


Sixty years later, the team righted that refusal. On Monday, Goldman was invited to the Bronx to serve as the bat girl for her beloved Yankees. Before a game against the Los Angeles Angels, she wiped a tear from her eye as she walked onto the field at Yankee Stadium for the first time.

Editorial Intern Derby Carlson
“A 70-Year-Old Bat Girl Lives Out Her 60-Year-Old Dream,” by James Wagner, in the New York Times


I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘I don’t believe anyone that I know in the administration ever said that Iraq had nuclear weapons.’

I heard Donald Rumsfeld say: ‘The Coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light, through the prism of our experience on 9/11.’

I heard a reporter say to Donald Rumsfeld: ‘Before the war in Iraq, you stated the case very eloquently and you said they would welcome us with open arms.’ And I heard Rumsfeld interrupt him: ‘Never said that. Never did. You may remember it well, but you’re thinking of somebody else. You can’t find, anywhere, me saying anything like either of those two things you just said I said.’

I heard Ahmed Chalabi, who had supplied most of the information about the weapons of mass destruction, shrug and say: ‘We are heroes in error … What was said before is not important.’

Editor Paul Reyes
“What I Heard about Iraq,” by Eliot Weinberger, in the London Review of Books


Beloved as a mentor, Berlant championed generations of students and colleagues. One was Laurie Shannon, PhD’96, who was a student in Berlant’s first class at UChicago and remained friends with Berlant for more than 37 years.

“Walking along North Avenue one January and analyzing some dilemma or other together, Lauren observed: ‘Poor everyone,’” said Shannon, the Franklyn Bliss Snyder Professor of English Literature at Northwestern University. “I hope these two words from Lauren capture the rangy magnanimity of their work on affect and attachment, of Lauren’s lion-hearted practice of friendship, and of a measureless contribution to the progress of so many thinkers—and feelers—around the world. Now we are poorer. But Lauren’s thought is our legacy; it teaches us that the best way to live/think/feel loss is always through love.” Berlant took special satisfaction in working with others. In a 2019 interview, Berlant described collaboration as a “super-intensified version of teaching.”

“There’s the complete joy of the ‘not me,’” Berlant said. “Seeing somebody else at work, seeing somebody else’s generativity and seeing how, together, you can compose things that neither of you could have done by yourself.”

Assistant Editor Heidi Siegrist
“Lauren Berlant, preeminent literary scholar and cultural theorist, 1957–2021,” by Sara Patterson, in UChicago News


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