Berfrois

Bad Readers

Bad Readers

Quizzing the students in his European literature class at Cornell on their reading habits, the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov observed in 1948, “The students leaned heavily on emotional identification, action, and the social-economic or historical angle. "

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Vine After Vine

Vine After Vine

Contemporary discussions of wine quality tend to oscillate unhelpfully between subjectivism and objectivism.

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Fountain Pens, Ballpoints, Typewriters, Laptops

Fountain Pens, Ballpoints, Typewriters, Laptops

I knew a poet who could only write his poems with a stub of a pencil. Nothing else worked for him as well. His family and friends bought him fountain pens, ballpoints, typewriters...

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Jessica Sequeira With a Quake

Jessica Sequeira With a Quake

During my visit to a library café, there was a quake. A little black dog hopped up on the platform and began to visit every table. The night before I’d been sitting on the grass below, just hanging out.

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Tip Every Day

Tip Every Day

I misplace an earring in my hotel room in Santiago, Chile. So I ask the head housekeeper, Patricia, if anyone has found it: a silver lotus leaf...

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Beloved Elders

Beloved Elders

Not long before he died, I sat in hospital with my grandfather, keeping him company as he waited, gowned and gaunt, for whatever the doctors might do...

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In November, we hear death’s footsteps..

In November, we hear death’s footsteps..

We have a little bit more time. It’s one of the last days of the month, and the clouds have come and so the rain will come and then the snow will come.

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Ecstasy and Turmoil

Ecstasy and Turmoil

Boris Pasternak is best known for writing Doctor Zhivago, a novel which documents these years of national upheaval through the eyes of a poet...

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Putting Bodies at the Heart of Resistance

Putting Bodies at the Heart of Resistance

‘We make art with our cunt,’ wrote ’90s cyberfeminists, VNS Matrix. ‘Gender abolitionism’ (Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation, 2015) has marked a shift in rhetoric, and Cornelia Sollfrank was the only 2017 delegate I remember to use the c-word

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‘Both of my parents had used drugs — opioids — since my childhood’

‘Both of my parents had used drugs — opioids — since my childhood’

I sat on a wrought iron daybed facing an open window, and a warm breeze was pooling in. It was the first day in my second foster home...

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The Shape of an Egg by Amy Glynn

The Shape of an Egg by Amy Glynn

Our first Christmas together, I was 39 weeks pregnant. He let me drag a seven-foot fir tree up the stairs to the flat and sat on the couch with a beer...

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Virginia Woolf on Dorothy Osborne

Virginia Woolf on Dorothy Osborne

Our early literature owes something of its magnificence to the fact that writing was an uncommon art, practised, rather for fame than for money...

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The Chinese-Filipino Experience

The Chinese-Filipino Experience

I do not know what my first language is. It’s definitely not English, of that at least I’m sure. Sometimes I think it’s the Southern Min language, spoken in the southern province of Fujian in China.

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‘The illegal course of the independence movement cost Catalonia its biggest loss of autonomy in decades’

‘The illegal course of the independence movement cost Catalonia its biggest loss of autonomy in decades’

Opponents of independence pointed out the discomfort they feel when they express their views. I am sure that many people who favour secession think that a society where people are afraid to express democratic opinions...

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Thinking About Monsters

Thinking About Monsters

Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, William Burroughs, Richard Wagner, Sid Vicious, V. S. Naipaul, John Galliano, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Caravaggio, Floyd Mayweather, though if we start listing athletes we’ll never stop.

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Trash. Waste. Junk.

Trash. Waste. Junk.

Yeah, I mean, it made a kind of sense. Iron Chef: Showdown is leftovers of leftovers of leftovers, and I say that as a fan of Iron Nerd Alton Brown.

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A wandering, restless existence…

A wandering, restless existence…

To work in academe is to live at an angle slightly askew to the regular run of American life.

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