Berfrois

February 2020

Emily Dickinsons

Emily Dickinsons

The cover of the little book is green with pink lilies. Love Poems by Emily Dickinson, published by Peter Pauper Press in 1950

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Acid Albion

Acid Albion

In 1961, a mysterious Englishman surfaced in Cambridge, Massachusetts, equipped with a mayonnaise jar full of LSD-infused sugar paste.

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Dating DFW

Dating DFW

A young woman—observant, self-conscious, harboring literary aspirations, though not quite sure where she wants to end up—meets an older novelist, and they start dating.

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Elias Tezapsidis: ABC Studios

Elias Tezapsidis: ABC Studios

Just across the street, there was the video game parlor. I call it that because it was not really an arcade, though some of the features were shared: a variety of consoles. It was called ABC studios...

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Freelancing Dorothy Parker

Freelancing Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker lost her job as Vanity Fair theater critic on January 11, 1920, in the tea room of the Plaza Hotel. Parker must have known there was trouble brewing as she sat down across from editor Frank Crowninshield.

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“As a socialist, I see it as my duty to be optimistic!”

“As a socialist, I see it as my duty to be optimistic!”

In the United Kingdom, in the shadow of a bleak Brexit, brilliant figures have emerged. One of them is Grace Blakeley, a very young commentator on economic issues...

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SCREWBALLED

SCREWBALLED

Two ladies on an outing to the Queens Museum one weekend last fall wander into “The Art of Rube Goldberg” exhibition. They enter casually and chuckle at a monitor playing a few moments from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.

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Adam Staley Groves on the Iowa Caucus

Adam Staley Groves on the Iowa Caucus

CNN by Adam Staley Groves Today, love seems more a privation than I could ever remember. Maybe that’s the problem of being aware of it, as if we could ever know love—or—as Foreigner once clamored, “I wanna know what love is.” So if there’s the small violence of certainty...

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Help. Me.

Help. Me.

There was a period of my life when, though I defined myself as a reader and a writer, the words I was consuming weren’t what anyone would recognize as having literary merit.

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Cry On My Stomach

Cry On My Stomach

The title of Elaine Kahn’s new collection, Romance or The End (Soft Skull Press, 2020), feels like an ultimatum. Traditionally—heteronormatively—the end comes just after the wedding

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Eric D. Lehman on Karl Ove Knausgaard

Eric D. Lehman on Karl Ove Knausgaard

When I picked up the first book in Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiographical series My Struggle, I had an unusual reaction: “It’s boring”...

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Elias Tezapsidis: Election Cabaret

Elias Tezapsidis: Election Cabaret

On a Sunday atypical of the usual routine, a lot was felt. A typical Sunday routine consists solely of coffee and reading the newspaper front to back as if the Internet did not exist...

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Joe Linker on Jeremy Fernando

Joe Linker on Jeremy Fernando

A writer likely will have, like Jeremy Fernando’s grandfather apparently had, a skin condition, an itch. If so, writing is the only lotion that will solve, salve, the skin problem.

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Writing Differently

Writing Differently

Danilo Kiš famously observed that the western bracketing of Balkan literature as narrowly ‘political’ rested on a set of mutually reinforcing stereotypes.

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Trauma in Motherwell

Trauma in Motherwell

John and Winifred met, and had their miscegenated, crossborder romance, because of the war. Without the war, I was always told, I wouldn’t have existed.

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Role-Models of Humility

Role-Models of Humility

‘The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.’ This phenomenon – observed in the 1930s by the English philosopher Bertrand Russell – has a technical name...

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Jessica Sequeira: A Wager with Nectar

Jessica Sequeira: A Wager with Nectar

You can get a sense of the tone of this book before even opening it. The title, a dizzy mirror and paradoxical double, casts into doubt fixed ideas of both “India” and “translation”...

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Elias Tezapsidis: Bergolo Disconnection

Elias Tezapsidis: Bergolo Disconnection

The healthiest way to have dealt with being rejected (or “not having received”) the Erasmus Mundus scholarship from the European Commission is something close to my current plan...

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Work Is Work

Work Is Work

Why do we work? Many of us might give a simple transactional answer to the question: we work in order to make money. For the American psychologist Abraham Maslow

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Sparking a Fever for Botanical Knowledge

Sparking a Fever for Botanical Knowledge

Mimosa pudica. Image via Wikimedia Commons From Lapham’s Quarterly: Sometime around the late eighteenth century, the French botanist René-Louiche Desfontaines took a plant on an outing around Paris in a horse-drawn carriage. At the time, botany was just emerging as an independent science separate from medicine and herbalism. Desfontaines, who’d...

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