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California

Illustration by Chad Wys

The Partition

Mainly, she wanted to be left alone. She didn’t want a husband or a wife or a partner or a lover, she didn’t want a companion or a pet or friends, she didn’t want to be closer to her parents or siblings or relatives. She enjoyed her solitude, relished it. She had plenty to occupy herself—her work, her house and garden, her hobbies. She was not at all lonely. She was thoroughly happy, being alone.

This perplexed people.

Photo by Ryan Bradley.

The Air Keeps It Interesting

1. In the darkness it was nothing but a thin low thrum, moving to a higher pitch as it neared. The Goodyear Blimp was somewhere out there. I stared into the sky off Venice Beach, California, trying to locate the thing. A woman in a polo shirt (Goo [...]

Illustrations by Jen Renninger

Total Loss

Fire does not abide by reason. In its destructive trail, there are empty bank accounts, unreturned voice mails, FedExed checks, hours upon hours of smooth-jazz hold music, fine print written in inscrutable jargon, and the summary Laurie learned to say for expediency’s sake: “My house exploded in a catastrophic fire. Can you please help me?”

California Sun

The pool whirrs suddenly, and the bluebottom stirs, like the blue in the sky when clouds sail across its seas.The tangerine sapling may be dying, hasn’t grown in two months. Frondson palms are limp and brown. Paradise is thirsty this November. [...]

Furious 7. Directed by James Wan. Universal Pictures, 2015.  137 minutes.

Driving Off Into the Sunset

The rest of the world eyes the lives of Golden State tribes—Hollywood “movie people,” surfers, gay San Franciscans, Silicon Valley programmers—with a mixture of fascination and longing. What is the powerful appeal of the California subcu [...]

The Neighborhood

Here and there occasionalas navels and avocados droppedby the path, scarlet cardinals,puppies, squirrels, and dodo birds pop on front yards—pressed resin, pressedtin, all kinds of acrylic from China.Someone loves them no lessthan the animals tha [...]

Carol Muske-Dukes and the Art of Empathy

Muske-Dukes has written poetry, fiction, and essays addressing a broad range of subjects—from John Keats’s “This Living Hand” to Hollywood life on the inside—but what concerns her most is discovering how language used with precision and accountability can effect transformation. 

Fevered Shapes

I wallowed in a needle-spawned world,
addicted to dope and the crazy life,
and yet there I was—in Berkeley
for my first poetry reading.

Wallace Stegner to VQR Editor, 1938

Wallace Stegner to VQR Editor, 1938

When he sent this letter to VQR Editor Lambert Davis, Wallace Stegner was in his late twenties and just starting to establish himself in national publications. From 1938 to 1943, he published three short stories and three book reviews in VQR. In 194 [...]

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