Berfrois

Qua Quillette

Qua Quillette

A year ago, I came across an article by Stephen Elliott, a writer I’d admired. There were plenty of disturbing things about the piece

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Deep, slow moving darkness!

Deep, slow moving darkness!

Tucked on a side street in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is Foyer, a small store specializing in plants, stationery, and “treasures.” On a bleak January day I stopped in for a couple of tillandsia and succulents...

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Susanna Crossman: A Year of Yellow Edges

Susanna Crossman: A Year of Yellow Edges

Roughly one year ago, on 17th November 2018, an impromptu French national protest was held against fuel tax. On Facebook, the instigators said: Put your fluorescent jacket on your dashboard.

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Lyra and Pantalaimon

Lyra and Pantalaimon

I first read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy as a young teen; it felt like a revelation. The books had a rough-textured animal-breath closeness that I had rarely encountered before...

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Muscovian? Rather: Musky

Muscovian? Rather: Musky

The so-called Muscovy duck is so called not in view of its homeland in the vicinity of Moscow --for in fact it is native to Central and South America-- but rather in mistranslation of its Latin designation...

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Driven. Or Not

Driven. Or Not

In 1995, comedian Denis Leary recorded a track called “Asshole,” a song about an all-American guy who likes “football and porno and books about war.”

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Sold! Or Not

Sold! Or Not

A few years ago I started collaborating with a client on her first book. When we signed the papers, in addition to including the fee structure and the schedule, I added one important stipulation: There is no guarantee that this book will sell.

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Debt, Cancelled

Debt, Cancelled

“I wanted to go to college to avoid being a third-generation janitor.” The man on stage at this California town hall tells a familiar story. He’s now a beloved high school principal, but to finance his education, he took out a loan—$80,000.

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A story of psychic descent and personal disintegration…

A story of psychic descent and personal disintegration…

I missed Guillaume Nicloux’s film The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq on its release in 2014. What a mistake...

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Give Me Excess

Give Me Excess

In the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Orsino, the Duke of Illyria, having been repeatedly rejected by the Countess Olivia, invokes a musical metaphor to describe his lovesick heart...

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Rosalie Morales Kearns: Still a Life

Rosalie Morales Kearns: Still a Life

In the 1980s, having a poster of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting in my college dorm room made me feel sophisticated and grown-up: I’m living in New York, it announced....

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Jessica Sequeira: The Fate of the Meadowlark

Jessica Sequeira: The Fate of the Meadowlark

Since a few hours ago, when we wrote those short notes to each other, I’ve been to a meeting of the Failed Novelists Society. This was partly an attempt to advance a story...

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A History of Leprosy and Japan

A History of Leprosy and Japan

Though surely unintentional on the part of the author, the timing of the book’s publication, the first English-language monograph on Japan’s history of leprosy, could not have been better.

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Ed Simon: A Struggle in Edom

Ed Simon: A Struggle in Edom

About a hundred years after that fateful day when the Augustinian monk Martin Luther apocryphally affixed his remonstrance to the door of Wittenberg Cathedral, and thus supposedly initiated the Reformation...

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Philippa Snow on Downloading Nancy

Philippa Snow on Downloading Nancy

When Nancy and her lover, Louis, are on the road somewhere outside Baltimore, and she has finally left her husband, and the world outside the car looks the way...

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On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

On the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In January the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, suffered a minor scandal concerning the virtue of the Mother of God.

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M. Munro: Ethics and Andrea Long Chu

M. Munro: Ethics and Andrea Long Chu

Andrea Long Chu’s Females is—already—many things to many people, including, as Bryony White notes, “an exercise in logic, not what they were expecting.”..

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Chasing Cheap Rents

Chasing Cheap Rents

I was back in Oakland for my new job. After nearly a month of looking for a place to live, I got a text from Jenny: “Would you consider a shack?”

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‘Socialism was hardly in the air in the suburban US’

‘Socialism was hardly in the air in the suburban US’

Socialism was hardly in the air in the suburban us of the late 90s and early 2000s. In Sunkara’s characteristically breezy telling, it took a lingering oasis of American social democracy, the local public library...

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