Berfrois

Crocodile! Crocodile!

Crocodile! Crocodile!

Instead of page numbers, “The Crocodiles,” a novel by the Egyptian writer Youssef Rakha, is marked by 405 numbered, block paragraphs, the whole symmetrically framed by references to Allen Ginsberg.

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If some books are good because they don’t sell, others are just as likely to be judged good because they do…

If some books are good because they don’t sell, others are just as likely to be judged good because they do…

Readers of the Pack: American Best-Selling | by Ruth Franklin,

Bookforum 

In Making The List, his 2001 book about best sellers, former Simon & Schuster editor in chief Michael Korda recalls that the publishing house once commissioned a study of which...

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Judie Newman: Bellow & Trotsky

Judie Newman: Bellow & Trotsky

by Judie Newman The later Bellow’s reputation as a neoconservative has obscured the centrality of his early enthusiasm for Trotskyism to his life and writings. The 2010 publication of a selection of his letters opens with Saul Bellow aged 17 writing to Yetta Barshevsky, a fellow high school student...

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The Ultimate Rose

The Ultimate Rose

Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens, Henry Arthur Payne, 1908 From Times Literary Supplement: The rose was made for symbolism, metaphor, allusion. Its beautiful flowers – in the wild, each bearing the symbolically charged number of five petals – bloom alongside vicious thorns. Sight,...

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Why Elif Batuman doesn’t read reviews

Why Elif Batuman doesn’t read reviews

by Elif Batuman Let’s say you’re writing a book.  Every day you get up and think about it and work on it and change it. Then, at some more-or-less arbitrary point (I didn’t realize before I published a book how arbitrary this point is), it’s taken away from you...

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Téa Obreht’s Well-Told Tiger Tale

Téa Obreht’s Well-Told Tiger Tale

From The New York Review of Books: The Tiger’s Wife, by a twenty-five-year-old Serbian who came to the US in 1997 at the age of twelve, has been praised-rightly in my view-as a remarkable first novel. Téa Obreht is an extraordinarily talented writer, skilled at combining different types of...

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‘The world I longed for was the world of the X-Men’

‘The world I longed for was the world of the X-Men’

From The Morning News: There’s a comic Freud used to illustrate his famous essay, “Interpretation of Dreams,” called “A French Nurse’s Dream.” The connection between comics and dreams is apparently so direct even Freud did not feel it necessary to explain why he would use a comic to illustrate...

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Coca Flows

Coca Flows

Coca Plantation, Madre de Dios, Peru, Benedicte Desrus  by Elaine Carey Andean Cocaine: The Making of a Global Drug, by Paul Gootenberg, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 442 pp. As someone who also has become interested in the scholarly analysis of the commodity flows of miracle powders, tinctures, and...

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‘Never return to the places where you’ve been happy’

‘Never return to the places where you’ve been happy’

From Granta: Never return to the places where you’ve been happy, my father always said. Ever since I started writing fiction, I’ve crafted not-always-happy stories about the country of my overwhelmingly happy childhood. It was no Utopia, of course, especially in the economic scramble after the fall of Soviet...

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Redeyed

Redeyed

Narita International Airport: Various Curious Scenes of Airplanes, Yamaguchi Akira, 2005 From London Review of Books: While John Kasarda shares the title page of this scientific romance masquerading as a work of urban theory, Aerotropolis was written by Greg Lindsay alone. Kasarda, a professor at the University of North...

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The Middle of Marján’s Map

The Middle of Marján’s Map

by Jason Dittmer The Middle of the Map: Geopolitics of Perceptions, by Attila Marján, John Harper Publishing, 208 pp. Attila Marján’s The Middle of the Map is a book that defies easy characterization. From its cover photo by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover to…well, really the cover photo by Roger Glover...

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En Liang Khong: Full Bloom

The cross-dressing Qiu Jin was emblematic of a revolutionary feminist current at the end of the Qing era, writing urgently on women’s emancipation: “While...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Very Much Like a Whale by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

They had obviously taken the pictures of the whale, and the group of people carrying it, out of curiosity. But still the images failed...

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Oscillation

We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.

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Menachem Feuer: Body

While Sarah Silverman jokingly tells us that her Jewish identity has more to do with her body than with the “responsibilities and limitations” that...

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Jeremy Fernando: Pink

An offering that might well remain in its being offered.

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Rosie Clarke Chats to Amelia Gray

I get the impulse to look to the canon, but I think we should try and challenge and squash the canon, too.

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Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

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Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting...

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Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks...

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Russell Bennetts
Street Fighter: Berfrois Interviews Tariq Ali

The extreme centre is a form of government that arose out of neoliberal economics and exists today in virtually the whole of Europe, North...

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John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it...

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Joel Gn on Henri Lefebvre

How may we speak of that which goes off the record in an age of digital colonisation?

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Volker M. Welter on Michael Graves

The designer Michael Graves, who passed away at the age of 80 on March 12th, was widely considered to be one of the founding...

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