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California

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 [...]

Wayne Thiebuad, San Francisco West Side Ridge, 2001. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36”.  (ART ©WAYNE THIEBAUD / LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY. COURTESY OF SMITHSONIAN AMERICAN ART MUSEUM, WASHINGTON DC / ART RESOURCE, NY)

Fifteen Takes on California

California as land’s end, world’s end: It collapses underneath the weight of such a reading, as it must. It reveals the limits of our history—demographic history, social history, history of technology, our sense of this place as final landscape, last territory on the continent, where we face ourselves because there is nowhere to turn.

Dislocation on Pacific Coast Highway

We had been going much too fast to make a perfect scan, yet the camera, in attempting to stitch together the vertical slices, had made a very interestingly distorted hash of the scene, one which somehow captured the architecture, the street traffic, and also the uneasy mood of the photographer.

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