Allison Wright is the executive editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review. She is the immediate past president of the nonprofit literary organization WriterHouse and former editor of Tiny Hardcore Press. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, VQR, Popular Mechanics, the Texas Observer, Literary Hub, the Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is a member of the American Society of Magazine Editors, the National Book Critics Circle, and the Overseas Press Club. She holds a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, and teaches journalism at the University of Virginia.
The ancient Oxus River, today called the Amu Darya, is one of the longest rivers in central Asia, traversing the region as it flows more than 1,500 miles from the Pamir Mountains in the east to its terminus in the Aral Sea.
VQR is proud to announce that contributing editor Elliott D. Woods has received the Whitman Bassow Award for the best reporting in any medium on international environmental issues for “The Fight for Chinko,” published in the Summer 2016 issue.
I once asked my mother, a well-educated, exceedingly competent woman, why she served as someone’s assistant for the majority of her professional life, yet always took a leadership role in volunteer organizations (president of the PTA and director of nearly every church committee on which she’s ever served, for example). Her response was unequivocal: “Your grandmother always told me that I would never be anything other than a secretary.” Mothers—“They fuck you up,” Philip Larkin wrote. “They may not mean to, but they do.”
In New York, the neighborhoods evolve according to the generations that claim them. In the early nineteenth century, Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, bracketed by Chelsea to the north and the West Village to the south, included a military fort and then a mixed-use neighborhood. As the city grew, working-class tenements slowly gave way to produce markets that eventually expanded to serve larger appetites. By 1900, the district boasted at least 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants, which were replaced in turn by entrepreneurs catering to different appetites altogether: underground gay clubs, leather and fetish shops, followed by bottle-service lounges and couture retail. All the while, more than a touch of that ragged grittiness has remained.
Journalists are synthesizing for a popular audience what historians have long known: Free women make their way in the world, availing themselves of new technologies and economic opportunities as they go. Girls—they’re just like us!
In 2006, photographer Gina LeVay began her odyssey into the Spanish-speaking world of toreras—female matadors. “A lot of them have gotten gored, injured, and they just get up and want to do it again. They’re fearless.”