Berfrois

August 2015

  • An Accidental Archivist

    August 2015 Highlights

    An Accidental Archivist

    Naming is powerful. A name can be a gift or a burden. Choosing or discarding a name can make you feel free. A nickname can make you feel loved or crushed.

    Read More

Peter Marshall reviews Purity

Peter Marshall reviews Purity

Purity can be a bit overstuffed with newsworthy items and references from the past several years of American life. He seems to want to write novels that would be candidates for the time vault, so that if people ever wonder what life was like in America at a certain...

Read More

‘It’s legal to drink on the street in Louisiana’

‘It’s legal to drink on the street in Louisiana’

I wasn’t technically a food bank employee, but rather a “fellow.” Every two weeks I got $415 from the government program and about $100 from the food bank itself.

Read More

Arundhati Roy’s Return to Fiction

Arundhati Roy’s Return to Fiction

Arundhathi Roy in 2013. Photograph by Augustus Binu. From The New York Times: “I’ve always been slightly short with people who say, ‘You haven’t written anything again,’ as if all the nonfiction I’ve written is not writing,” Arundhati Roy said. It was July, and we were sitting in Roy’s living...

Read More

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Concrete Passion

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Concrete Passion

A bit over a year ago, while documenting the partisan monuments from the Albanian communist period, I got a phone call from the Ministry of Culture: whether I can send them a list of the twenty most important monuments to restore.

Read More

Rohan Maitzen on George Eliot

Rohan Maitzen on George Eliot

George Eliot’s novels are often painful places to be. Her characters frequently find themselves embroiled in circumstances beyond their control or understanding, struggling to find their way forward in the face of incompatible desires or competing goods.

Read More

By the time Yeltsin exited the Kremlin…

By the time Yeltsin exited the Kremlin…

In Yeltsin’s ascent, the hour of Russian nationalism appeared to have struck. But while his popular support on the way up depended on an appeal to it, once he was entrenched in power, his political base lay in an intelligentsia that backed him for other reasons.

Read More

Daniel Bosch on Yang Mu

Daniel Bosch on Yang Mu

Yang Mu’s verse autobiographical prose, like his verse, relies on close observation of Taiwan’s landscape, flora, and fauna for imagery and metaphor. Yet if the humidity, the light, the tang in the breeze—the embodied experiences of the young Yang Mu—are distinctly Taiwanese, his themes are broadly human.

Read More

Virginia Woolf on Mrs. Grey

Virginia Woolf on Mrs. Grey

There are moments even in England, now, when even the busiest, most contented suddenly let fall what they hold — it may be the week’s washing.

Read More

Chris Moffat on Anand Patwardhan

Chris Moffat on Anand Patwardhan

Patwardhan both captures and manifests this wavering time of modern India: history exists in his films not as a static object for reflection, nostalgia or mourning, but as something which constantly returns, flashing up, animating politics and inflecting horizons of possibility in the present.

Read More

“To walk into a library is like listening to an orchestra tuning its instruments”

“To walk into a library is like listening to an orchestra tuning its instruments”

When I pick up a new novel, I will start in the middle. I will read ten pages in the middle, and if get interested in the sound of the writer’s voice I will go back and start at the beginning.

Read More

Rahul M Meets Aaraveeti Ramayogiah

Rahul M Meets Aaraveeti Ramayogiah

Ramayogiah, a sixty-five year old doctor with a thick white mustache and childlike glee in his face, has written over 27,000 postcards enumerating ways to prevent diseases to low-income people in India.

Read More

What Hersh the Most

What Hersh the Most

The original plan had been to wait a week and then claim that a drone strike had killed bin Laden in the Hindu Kush mountains, just across the border in Afghanistan.

Read More

Alexander McGregor on Leopold II of Belgium

Alexander McGregor on Leopold II of Belgium

“The mind of man is capable of anything because everything is in it, all the past as well as the future”, wrote Conrad in Heart of Darkness. This rather begs the historical question of responsibility. Were these actions the result of Leopold’s capriciousness or will?

Read More

Three Writers on Writing

Three Writers on Writing

Work comes from the accumulation: the momentums of routine, patience and attention.

Read More

What Were Good to be Done by Jeremy Fernando

What Were Good to be Done by Jeremy Fernando

The teacher can only guide, lead the ones being taught. For, it is not a direct transference of information, or even knowledge, but a leading by example; where the habits of the teacher — and by extension the teacher’s habitus — is the very site of the teaching.

Read More
Jeremy Fernando: Not

A response — Bartleby’s response — foregrounding the fact that it is the “I” that “prefers not to”: not that ‘I cannot’ nor ‘I...

Read More
Owen Vince on HARK

As a poet, you are your grandmother; you are browsing the obituaries with a red pen and an address book in your hand. The...

Read More
Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

Eric Weisbard wrote twenty years ago, introducing the voluminous, era-summarizing, contrarian and contradictory Spin Alternative Record Guide.

Read More
Collective Destruction by Keith Doubt

What, then, is sociocide? Sociocide resonates with the term demodernization formulated by A. V. Tishkov to account for the consequences of the war in...

Read More
Heather Lang on Fiona Sampson and Sarah Morgan

Poet Fiona Sampson is a former career violinist, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, overt references to music appear in her work.

Read More
Setsuko Adachi: Azalea Exuberance Strikes

In May, in the garden of the elevated house at the bottom of the hill, four shrubs of stunning azaleas come into full blossom....

Read More
Joe Linker
Joe Linker on Li Po

Florence showed me what she called the most famous of Chinese poems. She had made her own translation from a Chinese language newspaper clipping....

Read More
Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Luc Moullet

To begin at the end: After nearly two hours exploring facets of exploitation in the globalized food system, Luc Moullet closes Genèse d’un repas/Origins...

Read More
Adam Staley Groves: Iowa Nasty

Now it seems the state’s radical conservatives are degrading the historic, populist-provincial mentality of Iowa; they are revising the state’s legacy within the broader...

Read More
Animal Spirits at the Nueva Burdalesa Bakery by Jessica Sequeira

A few years ago all I had was a certain ambition and an understanding, more or less, of how things work in this world....

Read More
Sebastian Normandin
Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

The persistence and proliferation of pseudoscientific thinking in contemporary culture demands explanation. Clearly there are some pragmatic reasons for its expanded existence, and people...

Read More
Janice Lee For the Ghost

The memories are like stutters. Sometimes I inhale for air, and exhale a shaking chain of memories. A choking hazard. I for the ghost....

Read More
Edi Rama’s Bunker Mentality by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

As many former Eastern Block countries in the EU display a hardly dissimulated form of racism and religious hatred, Albania, always a little behind...

Read More
Menachem Feuer on Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham

Elle called Silverman’s image of her wearing a shirt with several naked Lena Dunhams a “beautiful tribute.” Dunham, the article tells us, “seemed to...

Read More