Berfrois

May 2018

Ed Simon on Philip Roth

Ed Simon on Philip Roth

It’s easy to see Roth as an avatar of the American literary “Great Male Narcissists” identified by David Foster Wallace (takes one to know one…). In a fashionable word, Roth can be problematic...

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Story of Biafra

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Story of Biafra

Sitting in Baltimore, Chimamanda found that writing her Biafra novel was arousing in her a degree of obsessiveness that she had not experienced before...

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‘To rumble and rattle up and down their gorges in a sleeping-car!’

‘To rumble and rattle up and down their gorges in a sleeping-car!’

It may seem curious to begin with Dante and pass on to the Children’s Rabbits’ House; but I require both to explain what it is I mean by Limbo...

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Gran’s Chicken

Gran’s Chicken

The star shape cuts into the circular handle that tops the lid of my candy dish. The star is echoed as it expands into the many cut diamonds which multiply as they eclipse over the round shape of the lid.

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Father’s Furniture

Father’s Furniture

It was because my father’s health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer live alone that I came to possess his copy of Chinese Household Furniture, the Dover paperback edition with the pale yellow cover.

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Daniel Fraser on Alejandro Zambra

Daniel Fraser on Alejandro Zambra

This collection of Alejandro Zambra’s essays and articles on literature (translated by Megan McDowell) arrived unexpectedly one cold morning in March.

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Absurd!

Absurd!

Last semester, halfway through a meeting of my ‘Meaning of Life’ seminar, I found myself lying on a window seat along the eastern wall of the classroom. I was scheduled for spinal surgery in a few months, and sitting and standing were tough.

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What of meaning?

What of meaning?

To my surprise, most of the people with whom I have talked about the meaning of life have told me that they did not think that their lives were meaningful enough. Many even presented their lives as outright meaningless.

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Origami Dragons by Jessica Ciccarelli

Origami Dragons by Jessica Ciccarelli

Ten years before my brother may or may not have tried to hang himself, he was an eight-year-old boy with a penchant for dragons, brave warriors, and courageous exploration.

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Writing in Buenos Aires by Romina Paula

Writing in Buenos Aires by Romina Paula

It’s extremely uncommon here in Argentina that a writer can make a living as such, all the more so in my generation. Or I guess I should say that it would be rare for a writer to live off the books he or she publishes, because writers do sometimes...

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Poets’ Houses: Hofmann, Forrest-Thomson

Poets’ Houses: Hofmann, Forrest-Thomson

Michael Hofmann is one of the great poets of squalid student digs, and ‘Between Bed and Wastepaper Basket’ is one of his great poems.

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Books That Confirm the Act of Being

Books That Confirm the Act of Being

At the Aligre flea market near my Parisian flat, I haggle over a trinket I’ve decided to give to my on-the-rocks lover. It is a rock, a small but well-shined one.

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The 68ers

The 68ers

Many revolutionaries assumed the year was only a prelude to an enormous social upheaval. In one sense, this proved to be the case.

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Impresario, Performer, Curator, Martyr, Insubordinate, Editor

Impresario, Performer, Curator, Martyr, Insubordinate, Editor

Eliot was very much a singular editor, both as the sole individual formally responsible for all aspects of editorship and also as the only individual to hold that role through the entire publication run of his journal.

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When the Literal and Metaphoric Control of the Gaze is Queered

When the Literal and Metaphoric Control of the Gaze is Queered

This decade has witnessed an increased focus on representing, discussing and experiencing difference in video games. Queer Game Studies, the first games studies volume to focus exclusively on LGBTQ issues.

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The sex is not sexual but satirical…

The sex is not sexual but satirical…

When people think of the work of Bob Fosse, Broadway’s foremost choreographer-director in the 1960s and 1970s, what they are likely to see in their minds is a group of dancers, in bowler hats and white gloves..

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Tipsy Tullivan’s Top Tips

Tipsy Tullivan’s Top Tips

I like this notion of “getting through” writing. Mostly I think about “getting away” with it. I am terribly bored whenever someone asks me to write something that has, indeed, existed before, such as a Disability 101 thinkpiece that explains x, y, or z to the presumed nondisabled readers.

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Alexander Chee continues to test the parameters of his identity…

Alexander Chee continues to test the parameters of his identity…

Years ago, Alexander Chee was attending a Wall Street book-club discussion of “Edinburgh,” his début novel, when “an otherwise nice white guy” asked him whether he had been a victim of sexual abuse...

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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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