The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Virginia Quarterly Review is a magazine focusing on current and historical literary subjects. Since it was founded in 1925, it is produced quarterly. The magazine is published by the Virginia Quarterly Review.Subjects for The Virginia Quarterly Review include literature and literary reviews. The editor is Ted Genoways. Contributing editors are Molly Minturn and Kevin Morrissey

Articles from Vol. 80, No. 4, Fall

A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, 1854-1967
A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, 1854-1967, by Rachel Cohen. Random House, March 2004. $24.95Cohen can flat write: there can be no doubt about that. The short chapters that make up this book are jewels of wit and precision....
A Kind of Solution
IThe writer was drinking himself to death. In his first flush of freedom-he had come to Iowa from a land ruled by a military dictatorship-he drowned himself in vodka, and when for the third day running he was rushed to the emergency room with a blood...
A Prison beyond the Law
IntroductionNot long after September 11, 2001, the Bush administration began to develop plans for a prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Station, in Cuba. Though modeled physically on maximum-security prisons in the United States, this facility-with a...
A Writer's Life
Elizabeth Costello. By J. M. Coetzee. Viking, October 2003. $21.95II was lucky enough to be in the auditorium at Princeton University on October 15, 1997, when Professor John Coetzee rose to deliver "The Philosophers and the Animals"-the first of two...
Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery
Balancing Risks: Great Power Intervention in the Periphery, by Jeffrey W. Taliaferro. Cornell, May 2004. $39.95Why do great powers initiate risky military interventions in regions of the world that do not in themselves pose a direct threat to the security...
Corsica, with a Collie
I stood with Bella in the sunny piazza in Livorno, one noon in May. My wife had gone to buy French francs; the era of the euro had not yet arrived. I noted to the collie that this was a city full of pretty girls . . . but what were we getting into? A...
Dead Letter
Coachy, to whom Papa Toussaint had given the two letters for Paul Louverture, led their way south from Point Samana toward Santo Domingo City. Coachy had been to that place before, not so long ago, when Papa Toussaint had sent his army to the Spanish...
Ditching the Rubric on Gun Control: Notes from an American Moderate
Here's the trouble: in America, our unique history of rebellion (against colonial rule, against domestic tyranny), expansion (westward, etc.), and individualism (the Enlightenment and all that) leaves us a peculiar cultural legacy. Our gun control debate,...
Face-to-Face with Terror
Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill. By Jessica Stern. HarperCollins, August 2003. $27.95The American people came face-to-face with the realities of worldwide terrorism following September 11. Although the United States only a few...
Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War
Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War, by Shirley Samuels. Oxford, March 2004. $49.95This short but densely packed study offers both the investigative range and the headaches one usually associates with longer books. Samuels sets out to examine...
Fear Itself: Meditations on Gay Marriage
One by one they came before the microphone, in bulky sweaters, down vests, business suits, blue jeans, their voices quaking with anger or fear. It was wrong, they said, and they tried to give the word powerful meaning, as if speaking it with extra force...
Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century
Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century, by Benjamin Valentine. Cornell, February 2004. $29.95Valentine sets out to diminish the role that ethnicist ideologies and other social dysfunctions play in explanations of genocides. He...
Five Beheadings
After careful study and due deliberation it is my opinion the head remains conscious for one minute and a half after decapitation.-Dr. Dassy d'Estaing, 1883In a heightened state of emotion, we speak at the rate of 160 words per minute.-Dr. Emily Reasoner,...
From the Han-Shan Sequence
On the Third Anniversary of Shi-Te's DeathThe Analects declare it is bestTo withdraw from one's generation.Next, to withdraw to another land.Next, to leave because of a look.Next best, to leave because of a word.All of these advisements had appliedBut...
Homeland
CURRENT EVENTS Homeland, by Dale Maharidge. Photography by Michael Williamson. Seven Stories, July 2004. $24.95This is a country that is afraid, angry, and divided, warns journalist Maharidge after speaking with and listening to hundreds of people in...
In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed
In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, by Carl Honore. HarperSanFrancisco, April 2004. $24.95Skeptics may wonder where to find signs of a worldwide movement of people slowing down. But others may wonder: Why...
"In That Thicket of Bitter Roots": The Ghazal in America
The challenge to contemporary poetry would seem to be a pair of unhappy alternatives: either to contrive new schemes of empirically meaningful repetition that reflect and-more importantly-transmit the color of contemporary experience; or to recover schemes...
José Padilla and the War on Rights
On June 9, 2002, an American citizen named José Padilla disappeared into a legal black hole. The government says he is a dangerous terrorist, but they have never charged him with a crime. For the nearly two years since he was arrested at Chicago O'Hare...
Mercy
Mercy, by Lucille Clifton. Boa, September 2004. $22Lucille Clifton has been producing lyrics of celebration and heartbreak since 1969 when she published her first book, Good Times. Her lean, spare, and agile lyrics, her use of lowercase letters, and...
Not Just Any Land
Not Just Any Land, by John Price. Nebraska, May 2004. $20This book reads like an environmentalist version of The Pilgrim's Progress. As a graduate student focusing on nature writing, John Price traveled into the grasslands of the Great Plains of America...
On the Viking Trail: Travels in Scandinavian America
On the Viking Trail: Travels in Scandinavian America, by Don Lago. Iowa, May 2004. $27.95Wallace Stegner, of Scandinavian heritage himself, wrote somewhere that the "cultural amputee is still trying to scratch the itch on the missing limb." Nice line;...
Putting the War on Terror on the Couch
Blind Trust: Large Groups and Their Leaders in Times of Crisis and Terror.By Vamik Volkan. Pitchstonc Publishing, May 2004. $19.95Among the myriad books tracing the path from poor airline security to the occupation of Iraq, very few analyses examine...
Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Continously Live-In House
Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England's Oldest Contlnously Live-In House, by Sarah Messer. Viking, June 2004. $23.95When Sarah Messer was a child, the will of Walter Hatch hung on the wall of her living room, silently decreeing that...
Report from Ground Zero
My alarm went off, and I lay in bed listening to the weather and news. It was September 11, 2001-an ordinary day, a workday, one of those early fall days that Minnesotans look back at longingly from winter's chill. I went downstairs, switched on the...
Reporting the Report
It was almost 11:30 a.m., July 22, 2004, and we were awaiting the arrival of the ten members of the National Commission on the Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally known as the 9/11 Commission). Most of the journalists gathered in the...
Return to Base: Memoirs of a B-17 Copilot
Return to Base: Memoirs of a B-17 Copilot, by Jesse Richard Pitts. Howell Press, April 2004. $29.95During World War II, the life expectancy of the American soldiers flying bombers over Axis-held Europe was estimated to be two to three months. In 1943-44...
Stated Focus
[with a snuffler alert]Late May, 1754: George Washington watchesas one of his confederates, the Iroquois warriorHalf-King, reaches down to the corpseof a freshly slain French ensign,scoops the still warm brainfrom out of the opened skull, and slowlysqueezes...
Statius, Volume 2: Thebaid, Books 1-7, and Statius, Volume 3: Thebaid, Books 8-12, and Achilleid
Statius, Volume 2: Thebaid, Books 1-7, and Statius, Volume 3: Thebald, Books 8-12, and Achilleid, by Publius Statius, edited and translated by D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Harvard, February 2004. $21.50 eachStatius devoted twelve years to the composition...
T. E. Lawrence and the Character of the Arabs
IIn a letter of December 1910, the young T. E. Lawrence defined civilization as "the power of appreciating the character and achievements of peoples in a different stage than ourselves." No Englishman had a greater understanding of the past glory of...
The Appalachians: America's First and Last Frontier
The Appalachians: America's First and Last Frontier, edited by Mari-Lynn Evans, Holly George-Warren, and Robert Santelli. Random House, June 2004. $29.95This book is a medley of essays, oral history, poetry, photos, artwork, and song lyrics that the...
The Contest
There comes a time when Elk Tooth residents no longer take an interest in winter. Toward the end of March the count of semis tipped over by the wind fails to amuse and driving the long way around to anywhere-Angle Iron pass is closed even in a mild winter-has...
The Cuckoo
The Cuckoo, by Peter Streckfus. Yale, March 2004. $25 cloth, $13 paperBy happy accident, Peter Streckfus may find his book subjected to closer scrutiny than most; The Cuckoo is Louise Glück's first selection in her tenure as judge of the Yale Series...
The Dead
How quickly Han-Shan has forgottenHis address. The street is the rightStreet, running along the hillside,But where among the huddled housesOf the government suburbIs the one he calls home?Snow has begun to fall."White houses," Han-Shan reflects,"Lose...
The Futurist
The Futurist never saw it coming. But now that he thinks of it, it's not surprising. Not surprising that she's telling him in the most intentionally archaic way: a pen-and-ink note slipped into his state-of-the-art carry-on. Written in past tense. The...
The Gardens of Emily Dickinson
The Gardens of Emily Dickinson, by Judith Farr with Louise Carter. Harvard, April 2004. $26.95Judith Farr's recent book tackles a subject that has been a commonplace among Dickinson scholars, yet until now never explored comprehensively: the strong influence...
The Gokstadt Ship
Viking Ship Museum, OsloI can imagine you on it. The museum placarddeclares it able fit for dozenswith a keel spine longer than these other boatscombined. Under sail, its oar holes could be snappedclosed, sealed by sliding flags of oak.I can imagine...
The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan
The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan, by Ben Macintyre. FSG, April 2004. $25The circumstances of the origin of this biography are as colorful and improbable as those of the life it depicts-that of Josiah Harlan, the Pennsylvania...
The Ministry of False Alarms
In post-9/11 America there has come to be what I think of as the Ministry of False Alarms. The Ministry of False Alarms constantly raises the level of fear inside the United States. I'm not sure what these various rainbowcolored alerts are supposed to...
The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942
The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942, by Christopher R. Browning. Nebraska, March 2004. $39.95The first fruits of an enormously ambitious "Comprehensive History of the Holocaust" and the harvest...
The Places of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern
The Places of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, by Alex Owen. Chicago, April 2004. $30The years between 1880 and 1914 are frequently held up as "hinge years," a time separating the brave new world we know today from its drab,...
The Resistance to Poetry
The Resistance to Poetry, by James Longenbach. Chicago, April 2004. $25Ordinary genres, like movies and novels, occupy a wide middle ground, targeting low- or high-brow audiences and varying in quality from skipable to life-changing. But poetry in 20th-century...
The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America
The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge. Penguin, May 2004. $25.95Although the primary aim of this book is to provide a window into the American political system for Europeans, it also provides a pretty...
The Sky Is Falling, the Sky Is Falling!
Everyone around the world with access to a television set saw the cataclysmic destruction of the World Trade Center towers, saw it in constant replay, burning-and burning itself into our collective retina. I saw it that way too, but first saw it unmediated....
The Song of How We Believe
Thomas Edison . . . tried to invent a machine for communicating electronically with the dead.-Wendy KaminerGive us an incisor, and we'll rationally conjecturean entire prehistoric head, to the glintin its eyes and in the light along its scaled skin-but...
The Spanish Gypsy: A History of a European Obsession
The Spanish Gypsy; A History of a European Obsession, by Lou Charnon-Deutsch. Penn State, May 2004. $39.95Ah, yes, Spain and the gypsies. We think we know so much about both of them from our readings of Dumas and Michener, from our love affair with Bizet...
The Universal in the Particular
Francine ProseLet me begin with two stories about the bad behavior of two world leadersor, a world leader and the wife of another world leader-in art museums.The first concerns Hitler's visit to Berlin's National Gallery in the 19205. Enraged to discover...
Willie Stark and the Long, Thinning Shadow of Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men: American Politics and the New Populism
Every man a king, every man a king,You can be a millionaire . . .-from a campaign song for Huey LongHuey Long, the controversial senator from Louisiana, remains the poster child for small-p populism. Less a sharply defined political movement, as was...