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Old Ideas [private]


The first poem in Leonard Cohen’s posthumous book The Flame made me laugh. Not because the lyrics are especially funny (although there are touches of Cohen’s characteristic wry humor), and not because the poem is foolish (it’s quite good), but because it is practically a medley of every single theme and obsession Cohen took up over his sixty-year career. Holiness and pussies are just a start. One almost senses him (knowingly, always knowingly) ticking off boxes. Angels and devils: check. Art, sartorial elegance, and slaves: check, check, check. Messianism: check:


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Photographs by Tim Gruber

Marlon James’s Notes to Self

One big expectation of the murder mystery is that the payoff includes some answers, that eventually we learn the truth. The best payoffs are layered, too, so that the revelations include not just who did the deed but how and why—what the motive was, offering a bit of insight into our own natures.

Photo by Jeff Sharlet

Telemetry

For two years I’ve been walking into the tall grass to take snapshots of this field at the top of the “crooked mile,” a winding hill that leads into the shallow valley of swamp and stream in which my house stands, just past the sign that reads pavement ends. I use my phone. I want the rough eye. The note. The diary. The record. The document. This time, this moment, unplanned.

Photography by Annie Ling

Begin Again

The painful truth is that our talismans have a shelf life. We cart them home with us from our travels, or extract them from the dusty attics of our ancestors, accompanied by the compelling fantasy that they will make real and tangible, make available, make possible this line of words that we summon from thin air each time we sit down to work.  

All in Favor, Say “I”

As a beginning writer I had a typically naïve conception of style as something added to a finished piece, as if the content is water and style the vase you pour it in—​a vase that shapes and decorates but doesn’t alter the chemistry of the water. But this understanding flattens style into its least dynamic, least magical aspect. 

Ro Cuzon

Writer Dad: Ro Cuzon

December 12, 2013

Editor’s note: Writer Dad is a series of interviews with professional writers who are also fathers, discussing how they balance the two, what the real challenges are, and how it affects both their writing and parenting. You can read more about how [...]

Illustration by John Ritter

The Writer’s Dilemma

In October 2012, VQR gathered innovative thinkers in the publishing industry to talk about where, exactly, this business might be headed. We delved into the risks and rewards of digital journalism, the tension between Internet giants and scrappy start-ups, and the opportunities at hand in a volatile industry.