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Essays

Recent Issue

Photograph by Johan Hallberg-Campbell

Revival of the Ice Canoe (print only)

  A half hour to race time, the snow still coming down, Jean Anderson had a decision to make: canoe number 79, or 181. Number 181 was new, state of the art, the best canoe Anderson had engineered. Whereas 79 was a warhorse, banged up by ic [...]

Illustration by Mathieu Bourel

Mere Virtuosity (print only)

When you are really young a song is often practical or compulsory. It has a function. It tempers loneliness when you sing it to yourself; or it breathes a different life into a schoolyard game or a movie; or it’s sung at gatherings, as a hymn or an [...]

VQR Online

Photo by Gary Honis

Night Moves

July 5, 2016

In "Night Moves," Amanda Petrusich visits Cherry Springs State Park, a Pennsylvania swath of night sky, where light pollution and fracking threaten the existence of one of the darkest places in America.

If Everything Is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?

October 5, 2015

When I talk to my students about living for compassion, they tend to be quite interested. But few of them have ever contemplated this sort of life before. Like the life of courage and the life of thought, the life of compassion seems to be receding in our culture. People don’t talk much about ideals any more. We don’t usually offer them as viable options to the young.

The Southwesternization of the American Palate

June 17, 2015

Barrow, Alaska, is about as far from anywhere in North America as it’s possible to get: hard by the Beaufort Sea, 720 miles from Anchorage, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC, 1,100 miles from the North Pole. Yet, until very recently, it was possible to stumble across taiga and tundra and find, there in the heart of the town, a Mexican restaurant.