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Essays

Recent Issue

Comic by Lisa Brown

Beastly Boy

On the wall of my living room is a drawing by the late artist Tomi Ungerer. It’s of a bearded man in medieval garb clutching a book and an enormous knife. He’s grinning wickedly at a child screaming in a boiling cauldron, heated by a pile of burning books. The piece is for the cover of a children’s-book exhibition catalog from 1965.

Illustration by Lorraine Name

What the Bear Doesn’t Know [private]

Our daughter talked early and walked late and was a lover of books even before she could talk. So it is not always easy to reconstruct the chronology of her enthusiasms for the stories we read to her and the make-believe they inspired, especially now that she is a few years older than her mother and I were at her birth. The difficulty has not deterred us: “Storytime” has become a story in itself for our family, a mythology all our own, though the telling calls up emotions any aging parent might claim.

Illustration by Alvaro Tapia Hidalgo

The Abuses of Enchantment [private]

“Once upon a time, in a faraway land across the big sea, there was a very old city,” the old man with the very thick glasses said in his very thick accent. “It bordered on some woods and there, in a little house close to them, many many years ago, a boy was born.” 

VQR Online

Photo by Gary Honis

Night Moves

July 5, 2016

In "Night Moves," Amanda Petrusich visits Cherry Springs State Park, a Pennsylvania swath of night sky, where light pollution and fracking threaten the existence of one of the darkest places in America.

If Everything Is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?

October 5, 2015

When I talk to my students about living for compassion, they tend to be quite interested. But few of them have ever contemplated this sort of life before. Like the life of courage and the life of thought, the life of compassion seems to be receding in our culture. People don’t talk much about ideals any more. We don’t usually offer them as viable options to the young.

The Southwesternization of the American Palate

June 17, 2015

Barrow, Alaska, is about as far from anywhere in North America as it’s possible to get: hard by the Beaufort Sea, 720 miles from Anchorage, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC, 1,100 miles from the North Pole. Yet, until very recently, it was possible to stumble across taiga and tundra and find, there in the heart of the town, a Mexican restaurant.