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Week 8/23/31

PUBLISHED: August 30, 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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“I first thought that the sudden disappearance of all those anti-mosquito coils you burn to get rid of insects was linked to the general shortages in the supermarkets. Then Nayla made me realize that it probably had more to do with the fact that it was impossible for many households to use the usual devices that you plug into a power socket, since there is hardly ever any electricity at all in many neighborhoods, especially at night. So we’re back to using the good old burning coils, which have now disappeared from the market because of high demand — collateral damage of the economic crisis, but also of the COVID-19 pandemic. For I am firmly convinced that the worldwide slump in industrial activity and the lower pollution levels that allowed nature to reboot during the three months of lockdown all over the world have given a new unexpected vigor to plants and insects.

And so now we are suddenly defenseless against the bugs.”

Associate Editor Alex Brock
Beirut 2020: Diary of the Collapse, by Charif Majdalani, translated by Ruth Diver, excerpted in Guernica



In rural Montana, on the weekend of the state tournament, small towns evacuate, their residents filling arenas designed for rock bands and college teams. The Warriors competed in Class C, the division representing the state’s smallest schools, where basketball occupies emotional terrain somewhere between escape and religion. Arlee, Montana, has an estimated population of 641, if you choose to believe the US Census, which no one locally does. That weekend, Will was scheduled to play in front of a crowd approximately ten times that size in Bozeman, two hundred miles to the southeast. Despite years of high expectations, and despite the presence of one of the state’s most dynamic players, Will’s cousin Phillip Malatare, a Séliš and Cree point guard, the Arlee Warriors had never won the state championship. Will’s addition had turned the team into something formidable, a pressing, blitzing group that outscored opponents in dizzying runs. Will’s sudden ascendance brought his family intense pride. Chasity filmed each contest on a smartphone, while Will’s father, Big Will, took his place by a large drum alongside the boy’s grandfather and uncles, singing before the team took the court.

Executive Editor Allison Wright
“This Crazy Feeling of Infinity,” by Abe Streep, in Esquire


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