Often cited by professional organizations for its content, The Virginia Quarterly Review also has consistently inventive covers. One of its secrets is the simple, strong format, which never varies from issue to issue. This particular cover isolates, for maximum effect, the stark black-and-white photo of a woman sleeping, dreamily out of focus. In focus is a tattoo on her shoulder of her deceased brother, who committed suicide after his second tour of duty in Iraq. And this focal shift turns reality inside-out: The dead victim is vivid and alive in the dream of his sister, whose life may have lost focus because of her profound loss. Regardless of one's position on the Iraq War, this is a searingly sad cover that provokes equal parts sympathy and outrage.
Next Mad, September 2008