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VQR Reviewed In Richmond Times-Dispatch

PUBLISHED: September 5, 2004

A recent mailing brought two sample copies of the Virginia Quarterly Review, published in Charlottesville. For almost 30 years the late Staige Blackford edited the VQR, continuing its reputation as a literary quarterly of substance and pertinence. Last year, a week before he was to retire, Blackford died in an automobile accident. His successor, Ted Genoways, 32, had already been selected. It detracts not at all from Blackford’s many successes at VQR to comment that recent issues edited by Genoways prove that this is not your father’s VQR.

The new VQR is wrapped in a slick heavy-duty cover, the front devoted to nameplate and a jazzy illustration and the back to headlined contents. Inside readers will find color illustrations and a number of typographical and design enhancements. The spring [2004] issue even offers a Kavalier and Clay story by Michael Chabon, with Chabon’s “Escapist” rendered in comic-strip form by Eric Knight. E. L. Doctorow’s byline also appears on a short story. Nick Bantock, noted for his scrapbook/documentary approach to fiction, tells how he does it. Feature articles address the capture of Saddam and the hazards a reporter faces in covering the war in Afghanistan. Brian Henry examines the poetry of Charles Wright, and Jane Jacobs looks at “Credentialing vs. Educating.” A selection of reviews and notes rounds out the issue.

The summer issue features new fiction by 15 writers, many of them no doubt on their way to literary fame and fortune. In an introduction, Genoways writes that he sought the work of young writers who know how to craft a plot and do justice to the short-story form. This is wholly in the VQR tradition, which boasts such “finds” as Ann Beattie, T. R. Pearson, and Christopher Tilghman. Well-known authors such as Annie Proulx and Toni Morrison also find VQR among their in their orbit. . . . VQR is set on a course of offering pithy fiction and up-to-the-date essays in smart and colorful formats. Such an approach should appeal to a broader range of readers while maintaining VQR’s venerable tradition of literary gravitas. That is no small achievement, which Blackford and his predecessors no doubt would heartily applaud.

— Ann Lloyd Merriman, Book Editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sept. 5, 2004

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