Berfrois

Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine, the heckling would start around page 10. ‘So Doc,’ relates a character called Denis (whose name, we are informed, is commonly pronounced to rhyme with...

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Clayton Eshleman: North American Poetry Today

Clayton Eshleman: North American Poetry Today

While living in Kyoto, I would ride my motorcycle downtown in the afternoon and work on my translations of César Vallejo’s Poemas humanos in the Yorunomado (“Night Window”) coffee shop. I had determined that a publishable version of this 1989 poem collection would constitute my apprenticeship to poetry. As...

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Real World

Real World

“Utopiæ insulæ tabula.” Woodcut map, From Utopia, by Thomas More, 1518 by Jenny C. Mann Is there anything more tedious than the facile distinction between university study and the “real world”? (The only thing that annoys me more is being called “Miss” by teenage restaurant workers — as if...

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Rumpled Sheet

Rumpled Sheet

Sisyphus, Anna Chromy, 2003 From The American Poetry Review: We cannot escape metaphor: there are “metaphors we live by,” according to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Philosophically minded modern writers from Jacques Derrida to William Gass have tried to make sure that we know how thoroughly metaphor saturates even...

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Kristen Zipperer on Intizar Husain

Kristen Zipperer on Intizar Husain

There are very few Urdu writers who have written about these despondent days in Pakistan’s history, with perhaps one notable exception. Intizar Husain is a novelist and short story writer whose work takes an unrelenting look at man’s attempt and ultimate failure to keep his humanity during the post-Partition...

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Someone (a lot) like Don Share

Someone (a lot) like Don Share

Huh. Well, I collect weird dictionaries, including dictionaries of cliches (which come in handy, in my line of work). But my favorite strange dictionary is the great classic Dictionary of Similes, edited by Frank Wilstach and published in 1916; it has the epigraph, "It's hard to find a simile...

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The Uncanny and the Abcanny by Alexander Stachniak

The Uncanny and the Abcanny by Alexander Stachniak

What happens when I introduce a ghost or monster into my fiction? What options open up to me? Is there an established convention? Am I bound to it? The majority of literary theory regarding the Uncanny and the Abcanny is near useless in answering any of these questions. Concerned...

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“Playful”

“Playful”

From Le Revenant, Méliès, 1903 by William Flesch An Honest Ghost: A Novel by Rick Whitaker A book that furnishes no quotations is no book — it is a plaything. Next to the originator of a good sentence is the first quoter of it. How frequently the mere purchase of a book...

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Amy Lowell’s Loves

Amy Lowell’s Loves

From Humanities: Lawrence’s letters to Lowell have been published and, among other things, they reveal that Lawrence thought Lowell was at her creative best when she was drawing on her own American identity, rather than on historical epics and French, Japanese, and Chinese poetry. I think he failed to...

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Balked No Weird

Balked No Weird

Around the same time English-language philosophers were debating whether or not you can know what it is like to be a bat (generally deciding that you can not), the Australian poet Les Murray was busy directly transcribing the thought-world of an imagined representative of this order.

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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Elias Tezapsidis on Lorentzen, Batuman, Lerner, Smallwood and Stein

Contemporary narrators feel entitled to their own realities now more than ever. The internet has created this fascinating binary, one in which individuals can...

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Henry Giardina on Bob Hope

All mythical creatures need an origin story. The Bob Hope character springs into being, Athena-like, from out of the head of Preston Sturges in...

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Mattilda B. Sycamore: Yearning From Spurning

One problem with gentrification is that it always gets worse. But then I go into a Hooters, and it’s a vintage clothing store. A...

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Alexander McGregor
Alexander McGregor: Trauma

Following World War II, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch”: to write poetry after Auschwitz is...

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John Crutchfield: Chords

But music, even bad music, is a symptom of hope, is it not? Naturally one would prefer the music to be good, but any...

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Menachem Feuer on Robin Williams

Regardless of whether you are from Europe, the United States, Asia, or Africa, we can all agree that there is something special about the...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

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Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

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A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

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