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. 83, No. 1, Winter

A Circus at the Center of the World
Elijah Manau was a rosy-cheeked man from the capital, and had been living in the village of 1797 for six months when the soldiers came. He was a timid man, and not without reason. To be exiled here to teach in this humid backwater was testament to his...
African Promise: Chad, August-September 2006
The throbbing music emanating from Le Carnivore Restaurant behind our hotel grows tinnier with each tortured beat, the voices rising to ever higher levels of screeching, and although Darren and I feel exhausted from the twenty-four-hour flight from Boston...
A Kind of Restoration
It is a world of words to the end of it . . .-Wallace StevensIn eulogies, children bemoan what they wishthey'd said to parents, before lossleft them, like parrots, with vocabulariesthat couldn't contain enough words to knowwhat to say to the mayor who...
A Mind for Metaphors
Drawing diagrams I measuredMovements of the stars;Though her tender flesh is nearHer mind I cannot measure.Sometime in the seventeenth century, the sixth Dalai Lama wrote this brief but revealing poem about the problem of people. The poem's orderly division...
A Place for People in Lyric Poetry
You may remember from some twenty years ago the PBS series titled Voices and Visions, which set about presenting documentaries of thirteen classic American poets-from Walt Whitman to Sylvia Plath. Not all the presentations are of equal value, though...
A Tale OF Fire AND Knowledge
One hot summer evening unknown perpetrators in unknown circumstances and with unknown intentions set fire to the four corners of Hungary. What we know is that the fire broke out at Ágfalva in the west, at Tiszabecs in the east, at Nógrádszakáll in the...
Auschwitz Report
Auschwitz Report, by Primo Levi and Leonardo De Benedetti, translated by Judith Woolf. Verso, October 2006. $17.95On January 27, 1945, Buna-Monowitz, a satellite camp of Auschwitz where Primo Levi and his friend Leonardo De Benedetti were imprisoned,...
Collected Poems: 1956-2001
Collected Poems: 1956-2001, by Thomas Kinsella. Wake Forest, August 2006. $18.95 paperKinsella writes in "Dura Mater," "She came along the passage in her slippers / with a fuzz of navy hair, and her long nails / held out wet out of the washing water....
Country Western Singer
From The Book of Last ThoughtsI used to feel like a new manAfter the day's first brew.But then the new man I becameWould need a tall one too.As would the new man he became,And the new one after himAnd so on and so forth till the new men madeThe dizzy...
Detail of the Four Chambers to the Horse's Heart
1Listen. The last time I saw my fatheralive, he spoke of horses, the brute geometryof a broken team in motion. He talliedthe bushels of oats, gallons of waterdown to the drop each task would cost.How Belgians loved hardwood names the most.Give them the...
Deus Ex Machina
Even the intangible can be broken.Maybe it would be better for me to saythat things just go wrong, or that thingsaren't always harmonious. At the startof Saint-Saëns' Danse macabre, a tritone,an augmented fourth, stands in for the Devil.The violin itself...
Ethical Suffering: On the Work of Alan Shapiro
In 1995 the poet Alan Shapiro impatiently awaited a flight to Houston, where his sister lay dying of breast cancer. At the airport he noticed members of the Bill T. Jones dance troupe waiting for the same flight. Shapiro told a dancer that that weekend...
Gray Shawl
My mother is standing near the landing dock of a summerhouse in New Hampshire. There's a weather-beaten rowboat tied to the end of the quay."What did you say?" she asks me."The driver called, Mom. He's going to be late."I think of the tall man in the...
How Was It Possible?
How Was It Possible? GEORGE SCIALABBA The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, by Niall Ferguson. Penguin Press, September 2006. $35It's hardly an original question, but it still needs to be asked: How could the twentieth...
"I'm Nobody": Lyric Poetry and the Problem of People
Life is an affair of people not of places.But for me life is an affair of placesand that is just the trouble.-Wallace Stevens, AdagiaThat we mourn. That we ache. That we want. That we lie. That we forget. That we fail. That we kowtow. That we deceive....
Intaglio
Intaglio, by Ariana-Sophia M. Kartsonis. Kent State, September 2006. $14 paperIntaglio is one of the smartest first books of poetry I've read this year. Eleanor Wilner, in her generous foreword to Intaglio, writes of the poems' "baroque lushness and...
Last Evenings on Earth
Last Evenings on Earth, by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews. New Directions, May 2006. $23.95Roberto Bolaño arrives on the scene in English in time for us to regret his recent death, in 2003. New Directions has already brought out two of his...
Laugh, Cry, Believe: Spielbergization and Its Discontents
Let no one say the American movie industry has not taken seriously its social mission.Nearly a lifetime ago and in the midst of another war, several hundred Hollywood creators gathered on the University of California's Los Angeles campus. The mood was...
Life among Others
The lyric poem is a form of social speaking. This simple, self-evident feature has often been obscured or overshadowed by the lyric's prized affinity for inwardness. But the very trait we prize-the public face of privacy-is paradoxical, reminding us...
Morbidity and Mortality: A SURGEON UNDER EXAM
If you poke a hole from the belly into the diaphragm and with your fingers clear away the cobweb-like tissues that separate the heart from the spine, there will be just enough space back there to fit your entire arm. And if you put a small incision along...
Remembering Susan Sontag
In thinking of my mother now, more than a year after her death, I often find myself dwelling on that startling phrase in Auden's great memorial poem for Yeats-words that both sum up what small immortality artistic accomplishment sometimes can confer...
Sepsis
The fog has yet to lift, God, and still the bustleof buses and garbage trucks. God, I have covetedsleep. I have wished to find an empty bedin the hospital while on call. I have placedmy bodily needs first, left nurses to dowhat I should have done. And...
Supposing Rembrandt's the Night Watch
We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the secret sits in the middle and knows.-ROBERT FROSTYou go to the museum and you see this huge Thing staring you in the face nd there doesn't seem much you can say or feel about it except: Wow The Thing has...
The Big Suck: Notes from the Jarhead Underground
Al Anbar Province, Iraq, 2006There are places even in Fallujah where the streeisong drops away to nothing, shaded alleys devoid of sound: you step inside them and for a moment it seems like nothing outside could ever get to you. Keep your steps right...
The Crimes of My Enemy
The Crimes of My Enemy JACK R. FISCHEL The Fire: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945, by Jörg Friedrich. Columbia University Press, October 2006. $34.95Approximately 36.5 million Europeans died during World War II. Included in this figure were the casualties...
The Curse of Oil: Niger Delta, Nigeria, 2005
She had one of those scrubbed-up, warbling voices from the Northern Plains, full of flattened vowels and Scandinavian resolve, and it made me think of Fargo. The vast backdrop of Peterbilt trucks and speedboat auctions, the envelope of fresh November...
The Fire: The Price of Oil in the Niger Delta
Nigeria should be a massively rich country. It's the most populous nation in Africa and the world's sixth leading oil producer. Over a quarter trillion dollars in oil has been lifted from Nigerian soils and waters in the last four decades. But after...
The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World
The Meaning of Whitemen: Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World, by Ira Bashkow. Chicago, July 2006. $25The rise of "whiteness studies" in the academy has led to increased, sometimes reductive, inquisitions into the power and privilege of...
The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq
CURRENT EVENTS The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, by Rory Stewart. Harcourt, August 2006. $25Rory Stewart, a young British diplomat and professional adventurer with considerable experience both in administration...
The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban
The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan after the Taliban, by Sarah Chayes. Penguin, August 2006. $25.95Chayes offers an account of four years spent on the ground in Afghanistan, first as a reporter for NPR and later as the head of a nongovernmental...
The Quandary of Oil in Africa
On November 10, 1995, after four botched attempts, Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the neck and finally pronounced dead. For decades, Saro-Wiwa had been among Nigeria's most prominent writers-a novelist, a journalist, and the creator of Africa's most watched...
What Caring Neighbors Do
Equatorial GuineaAs President Obiang Nguema's limousine approached the Congresses Palace in Bata, soldiers brandished whippy sticks to part the worthies in green caps and white party T-shirts. For months, officials had been organizing this, ordering...