Berfrois

Deep, slow moving darkness!

Deep, slow moving darkness!

Tucked on a side street in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood is Foyer, a small store specializing in plants, stationery, and “treasures.” On a bleak January day I stopped in for a couple of tillandsia and succulents...

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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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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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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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Were has the butterfly flown?

Were has the butterfly flown?

As Randall Jarrell once wrote of Walt Whitman, “baby critics who have barely learned to complain of the lack of ambiguity in Peter Rabbit can tell you all that is wrong with Leaves of Grass.”

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Sex Studies by Genia Blum

Sex Studies by Genia Blum

Bad girls sleep with bad boys. They get pregnant and, when everyone finds out, they have to leave school. Only married people are allowed to sleep together...

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Joe Linker: Bells

Joe Linker: Bells

Manual typewriters contained a bell that rang to signal the coming of the end of a line. The typist could adjust where along the line the bell might ring.

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Sylvia Warren: Includo

Sylvia Warren: Includo

I cannot let strangers into my house. What is inside is too difficult to explain, too grotesque, but you must understand I am still her mother, and I still love her.

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Amy Glynn: Head Trained

Amy Glynn: Head Trained

It’s April, only a few days past budbreak. The tiny new leaves on the gnarled vines are the translucent baby-green of a peridot and have something of the same vitreous luster.

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‘Having read Ulysses it added to my enjoyment’

‘Having read Ulysses it added to my enjoyment’

In one of his few written statements on art, Lucian Freud declared that “a painter’s tastes must grow out of what so obsesses him in life”. Published in the London literary magazine Encounter in 1954, the mere two pages of “Some Thoughts on Painting” remained among Freud’s most substantial...

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Scherezade Siobhan: Malpaís / Badlands

Scherezade Siobhan: Malpaís / Badlands

I don’t go to poems for skillful ease or what’s rote. I come seeking an empathic witness, what the Sufi calls ruhul seyrani—the moving soul, frequently illegible.

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‘What I did in life, I did with books’

‘What I did in life, I did with books’

I’ve always been aware of being an inconsistent personality. Of having a lot of contradictory voices knocking around my head. As a kid, I was ashamed of it.

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Portrait of a Londoner

Portrait of a Londoner

Nobody can be said to know London who does not know one true cockney - who cannot turn down a side street, away from the shops and the theatres, and knock at a private door in a street of private houses.

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“my right arm hurts so much”

“my right arm hurts so much”

Last summer, I woke up one morning to find my right hand couldn’t grab the doorknob to turn it open. The next thing I knew was that no matter how many times I shook it, it remained numb.

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Jessica Sequeira: Gloss on a Betel Nut

Jessica Sequeira: Gloss on a Betel Nut

Fodder: cows and horses eat the stuff, dried hay or straw, but what is it exactly? A beige substance to be consumed and excreted, a material to be burnt, pure fuel.

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Medha Singh on Octavio Paz

Medha Singh on Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz grants himself the permission to write long poems, and in doing so he grants it to all the imitators he knows his work will engender.

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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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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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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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