Berfrois

Scherezade Siobhan: Tabeer

Scherezade Siobhan: Tabeer

I navigate an illness that makes me a protagonist of clichés. Sometimes, the thought of release is a dream of falling through clouds. My friend excitedly speaks about watching the northern lights from the cockpit of a plane — the whole kaleidoscopic spectacle, every inch of that cursive diffusion.

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The Sea Cook

The Sea Cook

From Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, 2002 edition. Illustrated by Milo Winter From The Times Literary Supplement: The circumstances in which Robert Louis Stevenson came to write Treasure Island are legendary. The legend originates with the author himself in the essay “My First Book” (1894), written in the...

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Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Beckett’s Fear of the Other Side

Samuel Beckett, Avigdor Arikha, 1971 From London Review of Books: At the turning point of this second volume of Beckett’s letters, which is also the turning point of his professional life, the moment when, after so many years of ‘retyping … for rejection’, his best work is finally to...

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‘Every place deserves an atlas’

‘Every place deserves an atlas’

At the bottom of the cover of Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas it says, “Rebecca Solnit,” but this is not really, or entirely, her book.  Rather it is the result of an amazing collaboration among artists, cartographers, geographers, activists, historians, gadflies, ecologists, photographers, and a law scholar, all...

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As a Fly

As a Fly

Williams skipped college, enrolling directly in the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school in 1902, and it was there that he met Pound, along with Hilda Doolittle, who would become the poet known as H.D. when Pound showcased her poems in the various Imagist manifestoes and anthologies that flourished in...

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Hilary Plum: Behind the Headlines

Hilary Plum: Behind the Headlines

by Hilary Plum The Room and the Chair, by Lorraine Adams, Vintage, 366 pp. The Submission: A Novel, by Amy Waldman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 320 pp. Zone, by Mathias Énard, Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell, Open Letter Books, 517 pp. Lorraine Adams’ The Room and the...

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Fed

Fed

On a big platter in the middle of the full table sits the fat novel, its dust jacket a cracking bronze, peeling at the edges, its pages sliced and curling, its story stuffed with, well, stuffing: characters mixed with plot in a warm, moist setting, everyone talking at once,...

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Disconcerted

Disconcerted

Poster by Charles Sharland, 1913 by James Warner In The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst explored the iconoclasm of the Thatcher years. But in The Stranger’s Child, he seems to portray England as a country self-defeatingly focused on its past. For some generations now, novels largely set in large...

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Hav Not

Hav Not

From the cover of Last letters From Hav, by Jan Morris, 1985 edition  From Full Stop: Hav is a fictional travel narrative and in it, Morris mixes fact into fiction like mushrooms into scrambled eggs – if you look for the bits of mushroom, you can pick them out of the eggs,...

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Infinitely Gentle

Infinitely Gentle

His polite moments, which were frequent if often implausible (he denied reading quickly, being widely read, being “an especially fluid writer”) were all the more absurd given how caustic he could be.

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The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

“The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”, from Arabian Nights, Illustrated by Duilio Cambellotti, 1912-1913  by Karla Mallette The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights, by Muhsin Jāsim Mūsawī New York: Columbia University Press, 344 pp. Readers have long celebrated the Thousand and One Nights as a work that...

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Martha White on E. B. White

Martha White on E. B. White

In July 1969, New York Times journalist Israel Shenker had managed to persuade White to be interviewed at his farmhouse in Maine, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. It was rare for my grandfather to consent to such a request and the interview had not gone well.

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Pre-Code Horrors

Pre-Code Horrors

From Los Angeles Review of Books: It’s clear in retrospect that the comic book store I frequented at the age of 12 was a piece of shit. The year was 1994, a time of exciting developments in alternative and self-published comics — eventual lodestones such as Chris Ware’s Jimmy...

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‘Poche parole!’

‘Poche parole!’

Verdi’s Macbeth, 1964 via From The New York Review of Books: Verdi adored Shakespeare. Besides the three operas he took from him—Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff—he considered (though briefly) doing a Tempest or Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. He considered for a very long time, and came near to creating, an...

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Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

From the cover of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, 1959 edition   by Gloria Nne Onyeoziri Some Igbo people say that the millipede that is stepped on keeps quiet while its aggressor is the one to complain. They are not only leveling the playing field of the power to...

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‘Systematic nonconsideration of human rights’

‘Systematic nonconsideration of human rights’

From The New York Review of Books: When a scientific experiment uncovers a new phenomenon, a scientist is pleased. When an experiment fails to reveal something that the scientist originally expected, that, too, counts as a result worth analyzing. A sense of the “nonappearance of the expected” was my...

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Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

The Slaying of the Bull of Ishtar, from Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, illustrated by Ernest Wallcousins, 1915 by Theodore Ziolkowski Any ten minute search on the internet turns up hundreds of hits for Gilgamesh in recent years. Apart from novels, plays, poems, operas, and paintings, the ancient Babylonian...

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