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Essays

Recent Issue

Second Wave

This past February, I hired a cab for a pandemic-fatigued trip with a friend to the Himalayan hills in Himachal Pradesh, down the Old Manali road. It was a drowsy afternoon, the summer heat landing thick on the windows. My friend and I drifted in and out of sleep as our driver wound along circuitous roads. Listening to old Hindi songs, I started counting the Semal trees on the roadside, perched on the hills. Also called silk cotton trees, they blossom at the end of winter: leafless trees holding vibrant clutches of big red flowers.

VQR Online

On Faith and Hope

December 3, 2020

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “that perches in the soul.” The avian image is both lovely and apposite, for as a bird goes winging off at the first loud noise or sight of a predator, so hope—an aspect of desire, a wish that something, and usually something good, will happen—typically flies out the window as often as it lands on one’s shoulder. If something isn’t outright impossible, it’s possible to hope for it, though the likelihood of its happening lessens the closer to impossible it comes: living to one hundred, let’s say, following a life of three packs of smokes and a porterhouse every day.

Frantumaglia

December 3, 2020

Elena Ferrante’s Blurred Lines