Berfrois

May 2016

Go Over by M. Munro

Go Over by M. Munro

“If you only followed the parables,” it has been written, “you yourselves would become parables.” How is one to understand “follow” here?

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Are you reading this on a screen?

Are you reading this on a screen?

Joshua Cohen (born 1980) is somewhat younger than Shteyngart and company. His 2015 novel, Book of Numbers, was the first of his books to appear in hardcover and to be brought out by a large publisher.

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How Count Tolstoy Plays

How Count Tolstoy Plays

What brought Tolstoy to tennis so late in his life? Or, better, what brought him around to the game? When he was in his forties, he thought tennis was a faddish luxury, a pastime of the new rich, something imported, inauthentic—a child’s game enthused about by well-to-do grownups who...

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Not many made their living from academia, let alone literature…

Not many made their living from academia, let alone literature…

I find myself drawn, again and again, to the capsule biographies in the two volumes of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century. The poets of the nineteenth century were not only poets; not many made their living from academia, let alone literature. They were rich and poor.

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How did her dead ladies stay alive?

How did her dead ladies stay alive?

Any number of recent memoirs—most, but not all, by women—face down the question James posed in his essay “Is Life Worth Living?” Should we go on living, and if so, what will our lives look like? If terrible things have happened to us, is healing possible?

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Valley Girl and Surfer Dude Adverbs

Valley Girl and Surfer Dude Adverbs

I’m cursed with a mind that looks at a sentence and sees grammar before it sees meaning. It might be that I’m doing math by other means, that I overdid it with diagramming sentences as a boy, or that my grasp of English was warped by learning Latin.

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A Drop Fell on the Umbrella Magnolias

A Drop Fell on the Umbrella Magnolias

On rare occasions, the townsfolk of Amherst, Massachusetts, would catch a glimpse of a ghostly figure dressed in white, leaning over to tend her flowers by flickering lantern light.

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Prometheus Onward

Prometheus Onward

When Albert Camus said on the evening of December 12, 1957, “I have not yet given my opinion about Algeria, but I will if you ask me,” he was making an offer that students at the University of Stockholm could not refuse.

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Liz Kinnamon: Sensitive ‘LOVE’

Liz Kinnamon: Sensitive ‘LOVE’

The “sensitive guy” should be understood through the lens of what pop psychologists call emotional manipulation, and his proliferation is the result of two things: the rise of feminism and the rise of immaterial labor.

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That Moon by Andre Gerard

That Moon by Andre Gerard

It is a truth too often accepted, that a modernist writer with Virginia Woolf's feminist and elitist tendencies, had no use for Victorians in general and for Charles Dickens in particular.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Minimal Divergence

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Minimal Divergence

Kristi Pinderi (Pro LGBT), then opposition leader now PM Edi Rama, and Xheni Karaj (Aleanca LGBT) in better times (2013) by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Another year, another International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), another article that takes stock of the progress regarding LGBT rights in Albania. Spoiler alert: It...

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‘Plato is not famous for answering questions but for staking his life on the chance to ask them’

‘Plato is not famous for answering questions but for staking his life on the chance to ask them’

We are on the verge of becoming the best trained, and least educated, society since the Romans — and reducing the humanities to a type of soft science will only hasten this trend.

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Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Meat

Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Meat

In a 60-page essay I wrote on the nature of a “morbid curiosity,” I struggled not only with the ethics of viewing actualities of death found on shock sites—usually, the premature deaths of non-white victims of car crashes, industrial accidents, drug cartel violence.

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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...

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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...

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Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

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

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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...

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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.

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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....

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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