Berfrois

September 2019

Wright From the Bottle

Wright From the Bottle

The decades of near-silence that came in the wake of Charles Wright’s trilogy of short novels seem almost as aberrant and disquieting as the novels themselves.

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Ergodicity Economics

Ergodicity Economics

The principles of economics form the intellectual atmosphere in which most political discussion takes place. Its prevailing ideas are often invoked to justify the organisation of modern society...

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Cavafy wrote his poetry here…

Cavafy wrote his poetry here…

I arrived in Istanbul with the hope of solving a literary mystery. Like many readers before me, I wanted to locate the house where Cavafy had lived...

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The Truth of the Future

The Truth of the Future

Since Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate was first published, posthumously, in 1980, it has earned praise as one of the most significant books of our time. Leon Aron called it “the greatest Russian novel of the twentieth century.”

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45 on the Line

45 on the Line

The White House on Wednesday released a "memorandum" documenting the July 25 conversation between the president and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Pia Ghosh-Roy: The Wingspan of a Moth

Pia Ghosh-Roy: The Wingspan of a Moth

The moth is blackish-brown, as nondescript as a Tuesday. But it is not a Tuesday, it is a Friday. I see the moth on the windowpane as I’m about to leave for work...

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Leon Craig Reviews Berfrois: The Book and Queen Mobs Teahouse: Teh Book

Leon Craig Reviews Berfrois: The Book and Queen Mobs Teahouse: Teh Book

Anyone who thinks fiction and poetry are dying art forms needs to stay at home and get online more. As Russell Bennetts wrote in The Digital Critic ‘the revolution might not be televised...

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Natalie Lawrence on the Minotaur

Natalie Lawrence on the Minotaur

It all started on the shores of Crete, when the waves parted in a swirling, foaming mass and a bull emerged, crocus white and docile as a dove, with horns like polished olive branches.

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‘Experiment, symbols, allegory: reviewers don’t often like them’

‘Experiment, symbols, allegory: reviewers don’t often like them’

What reviews have in common is that they must all in some degree be re-creations: reshapings of what the novelist has already shaped.

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Jeremy Fernando on Pan Huiting

Jeremy Fernando on Pan Huiting

Quite possibly one of the more enigmatic lines from a text that is always already an enigma.

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Follow Caroline Calloway?

Follow Caroline Calloway?

When I was a sophomore in college, I took a creative-nonfiction workshop and met a girl who was everything I wasn’t. The point of the class was to learn to write your own story...

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Prince’s Beautiful One

Prince’s Beautiful One

On January 29, 2016, Prince summoned me to his home, Paisley Park, to tell me about a book he wanted to write. He was looking for a collaborator. Paisley Park is in Chanhassen

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The prose poem is one of the most abiding whatabouts…

The prose poem is one of the most abiding whatabouts…

It’s the insiders—the poets, the tenured—who like to “problematize” poetry and wield their whatabouts.

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Adam Staley Groves: Debate Number Three

Adam Staley Groves: Debate Number Three

It’s only debate number three, so the recent lefting by candidates is familiar babble, with a slight disquiet. In a recent video, pressing back against the press, Speaker Nancy had...

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Eric D. Lehman on Key West

Eric D. Lehman on Key West

by Eric D. Lehman It is in Key West I first decide to become anonymous. In an age when everyone was constantly signaling their existences, I would turn out the lights, disappear into the background of the painting, unplug from the matrix of the modern world. I would unbecome....

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #9

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #9

Karen—hurt and vengeful and angry to see herself depicted in Sarah’s novel as a weird, flattened, stereotype of herself—has come to the reading hoping to “bump” the turntable...

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Jessica Sequeira on Zenaida Suárez

Jessica Sequeira on Zenaida Suárez

La Nueva Novela  is a challenge starting from its title. Neither new nor a novel—putting it firmly in a line of puzzling Chilean monikers like Isla Negra...

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A Tinpot Dictatorship?

A Tinpot Dictatorship?

Given the extent to which the Brexit campaign has undermined Britain's institutions through lies, it is reasonable to worry that the country will soon come to resemble a tinpot dictatorship.

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Eli S. Evans: Double Bind

Eli S. Evans: Double Bind

So let us suppose for a moment that we (whoever we happens to be) were indeed able to put our politics aside, thus creating the necessary conditions, according to this detectably emotional woman...

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Tuna Pasta and Bargain Lager

Tuna Pasta and Bargain Lager

Oasis went from fourth on the bill at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow to playing to a quarter of a million people at Knebworth in a little over three years.

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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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