Volume 97, Number 4
VQR’s Winter 2021 issue engages questions of identity—how we perceive ourselves and others, and how those perceptions change. In one essay, Peter Trachtenberg reassesses his understanding of his father’s migration story—and by extension the man himself—through documents he inherited after his father’s death, comparing the ink on the page to the man in the flesh that he knew. Lars Horn’s essay turns the microscope inward, to look at self-transformation and self-discovery, brought to the fore through an unexpected pilgrimage. In a wry, shrewd memoiristic essay, JoAnna Novak reflects on the suspended joys of excess by realizing, to her surprise, that what she longs for in the midst of the pandemic is the luxuriously open-ended all-you-can-eat buffet. These pieces are complemented by others on one-dimensional narratives, the unreality of social media intimacy, the transformative power of tragedy in youth, and even the unexpected rebirth of an idyllic landscape that had been written off as a site of environmental ruin long ago.