Berfrois

December 2017

Power and New York’s Forgotten Waterfronts

Power and New York’s Forgotten Waterfronts

In Jennifer Egan’s The Keep, a former New York club promoter boasts a sixth sense for authority: “Danny could walk in a room and know who had power the way some people know from the feel of the air that it’s going to snow.”

Read More

Literary realism cowers in the shadow of virtual reality…

Literary realism cowers in the shadow of virtual reality…

VR offers experiences not readily available through physical reality, including the simulated experience of suffering. But its positive advocacy of new experiences makes it more adventure travel than understanding the lived reality of another person.

Read More

Bad Readers

Bad Readers

Quizzing the students in his European literature class at Cornell on their reading habits, the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov observed in 1948, “The students leaned heavily on emotional identification, action, and the social-economic or historical angle. "

Read More

Vine After Vine

Vine After Vine

Contemporary discussions of wine quality tend to oscillate unhelpfully between subjectivism and objectivism.

Read More

Fountain Pens, Ballpoints, Typewriters, Laptops

Fountain Pens, Ballpoints, Typewriters, Laptops

I knew a poet who could only write his poems with a stub of a pencil. Nothing else worked for him as well. His family and friends bought him fountain pens, ballpoints, typewriters...

Read More

Jessica Sequeira With a Quake

Jessica Sequeira With a Quake

During my visit to a library café, there was a quake. A little black dog hopped up on the platform and began to visit every table. The night before I’d been sitting on the grass below, just hanging out.

Read More

Tip Every Day

Tip Every Day

I misplace an earring in my hotel room in Santiago, Chile. So I ask the head housekeeper, Patricia, if anyone has found it: a silver lotus leaf...

Read More

Beloved Elders

Beloved Elders

Not long before he died, I sat in hospital with my grandfather, keeping him company as he waited, gowned and gaunt, for whatever the doctors might do...

Read More