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Essays

Recent Issue

The Quality Of Life Report by Meghan Daum

The Quality of Life Report, 2017

April 18, 2017

At the beginning of this year I drove from New York City to Iowa City, where I had a semester-long post as a visiting professor at the University of Iowa. My midpoint stop was Oberlin, Ohio; an old friend who teaches in the music conservatory at Ober [...]

Illustration by Jun Cen

Fear Factors [private]

When I moved to China nearly two years ago, one of the first things I bought was a bicycle. I live on a university campus, where everyone rides, and the bike was cheap: $17 for an ancient Five Rams cruiser, with a lively color scheme of teal and rust. I used to cycle to work when I lived in New York, dodging tourists and threading in between delivery trucks. But the moment I pulled out onto a street in China, it became clear that this was going to be a different experience.


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Of Sanctuary, Refuge, Migrants, and Refugees [private]

At the end of 2015, according to statistics gathered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 65 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced from their homes—displaced by war, famine, ethnic strife, religious violence, poverty, climate change. Of them, 21.3 million were classified as refugees, 4.9 million from Syria alone. And of all those 21.3 million, only 107,100 were resettled elsewhere that same year—a tiny fraction of a huge population in flight.


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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.