Some people surely pay for the Denver Voice simply because the money goes to the homeless and hardly glance at it before tossing it — although that would be a mistake. Not only does the Voice represent a worthy cause (for which is won a 2009 Westword MasterMind award), it also has damn fine journalism. Case in point: A Voice story — “Wonder Valley,” by contributor William Hillyard — got shortlisted in the impressive collection The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010.
The annual anthology of fiction, nonfiction, essays, comics, humor and esoterica is edited by Dave Eggers and this time, it features an introduction by David Sedaris, putting Hillyard among fine company. The book also includes killer material from the likes of The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine, not to mention pieces by Sherman Alexie, Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen Colbert. While Hillyard’s story didn’t make the final cut, even being listed among the book’s “Notable Nonrequired Reading” is pretty darn impressive.
And reading Hillyard’s story, it’s not hard to see why the work of literary nonfiction got the nod. “Wonder Valley” depicts a forlorn corner of the Mojave Desert in California populated by outcasts and drifters and opens with a bang — a cinematic panorama of this desolate wasteland that ends on the nude, dead body of woman lying in the dilapidated school bus that was her home. To find out what happens next, check out the story, as well as three follow-ups Hillyard has written about Wonder Valley for the Denver Voice, on his website.
In short, the stuff that’s been filling the pages of the Denver Voice more than warrants its $1 cover price. The fact that most of that money goes to the city’s less fortunate? All the better.