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What Is Feminism? by Caroline Leavitt

October 22, 2012

Editor's note: The following post is part of a series in which a diverse range of women writers discuss their definition, idea, or experience of feminism. For more background, take a look at our Fall 2012 issue, which features "Bad F [...]

On Being a Female Reporter

October 19, 2012

Editor's note: Today's post by VQR contributing editor Delphine Schrank is part of an online companion to our Fall 2012 issue on The Female Conscience. Click here to review all blog entries related to our fall issue. ——— I’m drinking whis [...]

What Is Feminism? by Jane Smiley

October 16, 2012

As a novelist, I instinctively interpret Feminism as the portrayal of women as complete actors in a diverse world—never less intelligent or self-motivated or interesting than male characters.

Drama in Poetryland

October 9, 2012

Literature blogs tend to be a touch dramatic. There’s incessant talk about the decline of poetry and a never-ending litany of literary controversies, but when it comes to drama, no subject leads to more hysterics than the popularity (and very exi [...]

Filming the End of the World in Metamora, Indiana

August 9, 2012

Note from the editor: The following essay is by writer and filmmaker Logan Moeller. He recently graduated from Ball State University and now lives in Cincinnati, pursuing odd jobs and generally avoiding a career. Right before he graduated, [...]

The Hunters

July 10, 2010

[caption id="attachment_6152" align="aligncenter" width="525" caption="A controlled burn of oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill sends towers of fire hundreds of feet into the air over the Gulf of Mexico June 9. (Credit: US Coast Guard/Petty Officer First Class John Masson)"][/caption]

I’m not writing to offer an apologia, but I have to say, life in the oilfield was wonderful. How much of that wonder was due to my youth—as well as the specific joy of youthfulness in the 1980s—and how much of the wonder was due to the nature of the work—the joy of the hunt—I cannot be sure. I think it must have been mostly the joy of the hunt, for there were old guys (there were almost never any women) who pursued the oil and gas with just as much fervor as the younger geologists.

We never called it crude, or black gold, or Texas tea. There were no clever nicknames, there was only the pure thing itself—oil if in the liquid state, or gas, if gaseous—that, and our pure and steady fever, our burning. If we ever referred to it as anything other than oil or gas, we called it pay. Four feet of pay, twenty feet of pay, thirty feet of pay. Sixty feet of pay was a lot, enough to change your life.

I worked for a small independent oil and gas company, which was owned by a wealthy individual who drilled his wells with the aid of a group of a dozen or so investors, rich people who believed in him and in us, but who were also entirely willing to stop believing if we one day ceased to be successful.

Speaking only for myself, I didn’t ever worry about that. I never mapped a prospect, never drilled a well that I didn’t believe was going to find pay. Success rates were somewhere in the neighborhood of baseball batting averages—between ten and thirty percent—but the baseball metaphor does not carry much further than that, other than perhaps the ability to salvage a game—or a career—with one certain swing, a key strike at the most critical time.


A Meditation on Roast Chicken

June 30, 2010

Just as a bottle of wine is enhanced by knowledge of its production and provenance, food is enriched by a sustained meditation on the life it once was and a reverence for all the work that brought it to the table.

What Good are Authors’ Estates?

June 7, 2010

You will die, and if your writing is any good, and thereby profitable to concerned parties, a melodramatic and legalistic morass may appear sooner than any volumes of collected works.