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VQR editor takes his own life
August 2, 2010 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Heartbreaking news for people who care about reading. Founded in 1925, the Virginia Quarterly Review has become the standard-bearer for long-form narrative journalism - "the sort of articles that make readers want to become writers." "The Life and Lonely Death of Noah Pierce" is a great example of what this kind of writing can achieve, but it's not the only one. The essential Bookslut has called the VQR "the best fucking magazine on the planet right now." Last week Mefi's own Waldo made the blog post we all dread having to make. His friend and boss, the VQR's genius editor Kevin Morrissey made his will, left his affairs in order, called the police to report a shooting that had not yet happened, and took his own life. Previously on the blue.
posted by rdc (53 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by defenestration at 12:58 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by sonic meat machine at 1:00 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by voltairemodern at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by brundlefly at 1:02 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by rtha at 1:03 PM on August 2, 2010


Dammit.

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posted by lukemeister at 1:04 PM on August 2, 2010


A sad and poetic ending.

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posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:06 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by sio42 at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by biddeford at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by bettafish at 1:08 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by a small part of the world at 1:11 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by reductiondesign at 1:12 PM on August 2, 2010


Absolutely awful.
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posted by WPW at 1:25 PM on August 2, 2010


Oh, dear. I note from comments on Waldo's post that he worked here in Madison for a while, and I'm sure there are some folks locally who are among those mourning his loss acutely.

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posted by Madamina at 1:26 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by jtron at 1:30 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by giraffe at 1:45 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by hal9k at 1:50 PM on August 2, 2010


Great great magazine. I don't understand this.

I don't want to understand this.

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posted by Skygazer at 1:59 PM on August 2, 2010


Perhaps the smarter you are, the less satisfied with this reality you're prone to be
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posted by Redhush at 2:03 PM on August 2, 2010


O Jesus no.

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posted by trip and a half at 2:14 PM on August 2, 2010


Oh no.
posted by tangerine at 2:15 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by angrycat at 2:33 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by Chichibio at 2:35 PM on August 2, 2010


What terrible news. Without knowing the pain the guy went through, all I can add is VQR is a cultural treasure and I hope the staff is able to support one another through this and recover quickly.
posted by mediareport at 2:41 PM on August 2, 2010


Oh no.
posted by jokeefe at 2:46 PM on August 2, 2010


:(
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by Kinbote at 3:14 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by merelyglib at 3:18 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by yeoz at 3:25 PM on August 2, 2010


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Fuck depression, man.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 3:48 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by dontoine at 4:35 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by Ouisch at 4:58 PM on August 2, 2010


It's so sad reading this on Metafilter. After everything that we've been through since 3:30 on Friday, somehow the very hardest thing—the realest thing?—is reading about it here. Jesus, I'm just disgusting here—all manner of fluids running down my face.

I do want to be clear on something, although the result is the same. Kevin Morrissey is was (*sigh*) our managing editor. But unlike the position of managing editor at some publications, Kevin was heavily involved with the editorial side of the publication. Our much-acclaimed South America issue was his baby. He screened incoming submissions, reshaped articles, fact checked, copyedited, and herded every issue across the finish line. Kevin was an utter perfectionist—harder on himself than anyone else—and he worked to the point of exhaustion and, sadly, beyond, to make every issue of VQR the best that it could possibly be. I have a difficult time envisioning how we're going to maintain that level of quality without him.

Metafilter has been very good to VQR—Kevin was a big fan, and was always flattered and thrilled to see a link to us from the blue—but I'm just so touched that you’d think of us now. Thanks for making Kevin your first FPP, Rachel.

We're planning to have a memorial service here at the University of Virginia on Friday at 3 PM. All are welcome.
posted by waldo at 5:00 PM on August 2, 2010 [16 favorites]


peace to you, his friends and family, waldo.


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posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:03 PM on August 2, 2010


Oh my God. VQR is deep in my heart--VQR was my Big Time. A few years ago, they picked three poems of mine out of the slushpile and published them, for reasons I still don't really understand. Every small success that came afterward is a direct result of that credit. After VQR, everything came a little easier.

Maybe a year after those poems came out, unbeknownst to me, my husband emailed Kevin Morrissey and asked him for advice on my behalf. I was in a strange situation, writing full-time with no education and no real literary connections. Kevin wrote back a week later, a long, involved email full of detailed advice, and told me he had no college degree either. And as if all that wasn't enough, he gave me his phone number and told me to call him if I needed more help. I never did, but that meant so much to me.

RIP, Kevin. Thank you for the kindness, and thank you for the chance.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 5:36 PM on August 2, 2010 [14 favorites]


I am so sorry for your [and everyone's] loss, waldo.
posted by jessamyn at 5:39 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by ltracey at 7:16 PM on August 2, 2010


Aww. Deeply sorry to hear about this. VQR is one of the few mags I buy at the news stand, in part because I'm deeply pretentious and love other people seeing me reading it (also, I tell everyone around me about all the good articles). Harpers? Send that to my house in a brown paper bag! VQR? That's the journal I hide my copies of the Utne Reader in. Really sad to hear that one of the people behind it is gone. Best wishes!
posted by klangklangston at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by deCadmus at 7:33 PM on August 2, 2010


"the standard-bearer for long-form narrative journalism"

Now shorter and punchier.
posted by markkraft at 7:52 PM on August 2, 2010


Oh for fuck's sake... how incredibly sad. I went to the vigil of a man who'd committed suicide last week. There's no kind of death which traumatizes like suicide. What terrible news. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and everyone in the VQR community, a magazine I dearly cherish.
posted by Kattullus at 9:02 PM on August 2, 2010


Sad news. As a grad. student I wrote some book reviews for the "old" VQR before its makeover into something much more appealing and cutting edge.

And as something of an aside, have the C-ville authorities still not torn down/closed off that fucking coal tower?
posted by bardic at 9:40 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by ankurd at 11:28 PM on August 2, 2010


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posted by squirtle at 12:29 AM on August 3, 2010


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God damn that black dog.
posted by Gnatcho at 4:20 AM on August 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


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posted by SageLeVoid at 4:31 AM on August 3, 2010


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posted by HumanComplex at 8:41 AM on August 3, 2010


Waldo - on the contrary, my thanks are due to you, and to everyone at VQR, for making the magazine what it is. I wish I'd gotten off my ass and posted about what it means to me while Kevin was still around to read it. You're in my thoughts.
posted by rdc at 11:40 AM on August 3, 2010


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posted by LMGM at 7:05 PM on August 3, 2010


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posted by tallus at 2:51 PM on August 4, 2010


There is a long and somewhat controversial story about Kevin's death in yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Ed.

He worked with a lot of my colleagues in university press publishing over the years. Losing him has had a profound effect on this community. Waldo, I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:43 AM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was in the process of making a post about the Chronicle article and I see that it is linked here. For reference the post is here. I thought the article was worthy of its own post, even though this is an open thread.
posted by geoff. at 2:28 PM on August 16, 2010


I work a few blocks from the Coal Tower and this tragic story is slowly unsettling the locals.
posted by MrChowWow at 8:16 PM on August 16, 2010


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