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California

Illustration by Amy Friend

Late-Night Bloomers

Evelyn watched as Lawrence put the plastic bag over his head, snapped the terry-clothed elastic around his throat and affixed the tube to the helium tank beside him. She sat quietly, neither interrupting nor egging him on. She was simply there so th [...]

Jungle Jangle

sic on it, the cameras: witch-green greasepaint canopy—
pan down: the thick bamboo lattice
twine-bound—pan down: dirt with rags to gag up,

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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