Berfrois

November 2019

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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“Life is wasted on people”

“Life is wasted on people”

In Noah Baumbach’s newly released “Marriage Story,” Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson play a couple who are going through a painful, protracted divorce battle.

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Keith Doubt: Peter Handke in Serbia

Keith Doubt: Peter Handke in Serbia

If Handke bears witness on behalf of the people of Serbia, how does he do so? What is the self-consciousness Handke ascribes to the Serbian people?

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Silencing the Bomb

Silencing the Bomb

In Silencing the Bomb: One Scientist’s Quest to Halt Nuclear Testing, Lynn Sykes offers a fascinating look at the time and effort it took for states, during and after the Cold War, to agree...

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A Collar Bomb Wrapped Up In an Enigma

A Collar Bomb Wrapped Up In an Enigma

At 2:28 pm on August 28, 2003, a middle-aged pizza deliveryman named Brian Wells walked into a PNC Bank in Erie, Pennsylvania.

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Will Warren Win?

Will Warren Win?

The big story of the campaign so far has been the ascent of Elizabeth Warren. A reluctant and somewhat shaky candidate in 2012...

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Mothers Without Men

Mothers Without Men

Place Edmond Rostand in Paris was packed on Sunday 6 October. Smartly dressed families kept arriving. They had gathered to oppose a new law that will extend assisted reproduction (PMA) to lesbian couples and single women...

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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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