CULTURE

Quantum’s Surreal “The River” Transfixes

In Richard Brautigan’s classic surrealist novel, Trout Fishing In America, the narrator visits a store selling trout streams by the foot. They are stacked in piles like pieces of lumber, each length corresponding to a different price.

Drue Heinz winner brings humanity to adversity

When Melissa Yancy describes aspects of facial reconstructions, fetal surgery and kidney transplants in her short-​story collection Dog Years (University of Pittsburgh Press), she writes knowingly, not gratuitously. The 2016 Drue Heinz Award winner and Phoenix native, comes honestly to this perspective as a fundraiser advocating for health-​care causes. And…

The Challenge of Fighting Back

by John Allison
Reading the latest novel by Stewart O’Nan, the Pittsburgh-​born writer who boomeranged home several years ago, is like watching the performance of an experienced athlete who makes it all look so easy. “City of Secrets” is his 16th novel since 1994, and the first to take place entirely outside of…

Short Takes: “Whiskey, Etc.” “Death by Cyanide”

by John Allison
Sherrie Flick’s latest collection is described as “short (short) stories” — that parenthetical “short” preparing you for one page tales, even one-​paragraph blasts. Scholars of marketing might see this as evidence that fiction creators are getting with the short-​attention span condition of the modern consumer, offering an efficient product that can be…

Molded Tooth Staggered Gear and Worker, 1913

by PQ Staff
The Mesta Machine Company churned and smoked on more than 20 acres of land along the Monongahela River.

A Monument Then and Now

Did the demolition of the greenfield (really the Beechwood Boulevard) Bridge feel like the passing of an era? The urbane, concrete arch span of 1923 was crumbling far too ominously above the speeding traffic of the Parkway East to be able to stay in place, so it was ceremoniously demolished.…

The Old Ways May Be Best

Marino floro plucks a perfectly shaped fig from a tree in his Sewickley yard, opens the door to his chicken coop, and offers the fruit to a chamois-​colored hen, which clucks with enthusiasm.

A Long Romance

At first, the performance was delayed because ballerina Carlotta Grisi was recovering from an injury. Then the conductor was battling a tumor. And then safety concerns slowed the set construction. But finally, on June 28, 1841 — a Monday night — “Giselle” premiered at the Paris Opéra.

Hidden from History

The life of Esther Phillips (190283) would have languished in obscurity, at most a footnote in history, were it not for the dedication of a few friends and supporters. Her story, which intersects with ideas about women, class and mental health in the 20th century, is all too familiar.…

Once Upon A Tunnel

The calamity began at the stroke of midnight on May 10, 1924, when Pittsburgh Street Railway Company employees walked off the job. The streetcar strike threw commuters into a tizzy, and the following morning South Hills commuters jumped into their cars and headed for the recently opened Liberty Tunnels. Between…

Oakmont Camping, circa 1910

by PQ Staff
For Pittsburghers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Oakmont offered the next best thing to paradise.

A Window Into the Marcellus

“Heat and Light,” the latest novel from western Pennsylvania native Jennifer Haigh, has tandem virtues. It possesses not only the urgent feel of a story “ripped from the headlines,” as they say, but also the grace and insight of American literary fiction for the ages. The Marcellus Shale boom in…

The Story of an Icon

With the completion of the Tower at PNC Plaza, Pittsburgh has yet another generation of skyscraper design in its picturesque cityscape. Though our first tall steel-​frame building — Longfellow, Alden & Harlow’s Carnegie Building of 1895 — was lost in 1952 for the Kaufmann’s store annex, the Frick building of 1902 remains with several…

Neither, Either, Or

If you want to explore the vexing subject of global climate change, Seamus McGraw is the guy to have as a tour guide. He will not torture your brain with elaborate science, tax your patience with lectures about evil consumer habits, or bash you over the head with partisan arguments.…

The City-​County Building

Ask people their favorite downtown Pittsburgh building, and many will tell you Henry Hobson Richardson’s Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail. Pittsburgh’s first really famous piece of architecture has been popular consistently since its 1888 completion.
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