Berfrois

Beloved Toni Morrison

Beloved Toni Morrison

What I cherish most about Toni Morrison’s work is the way that she used the English language: to its fullest, across its entire range.

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A Catalogue of Sins in the 20th Century

A Catalogue of Sins in the 20th Century

As a citizen in North America, I have done these things unthinkingly in many cases and knowingly in others, but still I have committed these sins and continue to commit them.

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #8

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #8

In Kwon’s novel, this line is overheard by Will as he observes the young woman of his obsession—Phoebe—drift slowly into the orbit of cultist John Leal.

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Ed Simon: The Final Sentence

Ed Simon: The Final Sentence

Narrative is a strange thing, that little circumscribed universe bound between the covers of a book. Unlike life, a novel actually draws to a close.

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What Goodness Knows

What Goodness Knows

Central to Ed Simon’s 100 page immersion in goodness is a discussion of Judas, who betrayed Jesus. It’s a little forced, but the idea is that without the betrayal, Jesus can’t save the world.

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #7

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #7

"If you’re too loyal to your own suffering, you forget that others suffer, too." This is spoken comes during a dinner in Brussels with Dr. Maillotte...

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #6

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #6

Ralph Wurlitzer, who is 82 years old, published five novels, of which Flats is number two. It takes place in the aftermath of some unnamed disaster...

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Check Out a Tear

Check Out a Tear

I’m a crier by nature, but as I have aged, my reasons for tearing up have become more elusive, even to me. Where once I could predict a crying spell, like spotting an East Texas thunderstorm moving across the landscape...

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Ed Simon: Once We Went to the Moon

Ed Simon: Once We Went to the Moon

Our culture has always had ambiguous feelings about the moon; both the celestial orb that lights our way home and a furnace of madness that causes lycanthropy and marks the witches’ sabbath.

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #5

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #5

by Nicholas Rombes From Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday. Simon and Schuster, 2018: The effect, on Alice, was dazzling and demoralizing all at once: reverberating in her sternum, the music made her more desperate than ever to do, invent, create—to channel all her own energies into the making of something...

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Vernon Lee: About Leisure

Vernon Lee: About Leisure

Hung in my room, in such a manner as to catch my eye on waking, is an excellent photograph of Bellini's St. Jerome in his Study. I am aware that it is not at all by Bellini

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #4

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #4

I first read Under Western Eyes as a graduate student in English at Penn State University in a terrible seminar called simply “Woolf and Conrad”...

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Late Monsoon

Late Monsoon

Delhi—In early April, a fire began to smolder inside the Ghazipur landfill, the trash mountain that stands like a brown, stinking sentinel, two hundred feet high, on the outskirts of New Delhi...

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To Raise a Doll

To Raise a Doll

From The Believer: On a Sunday morning in May 2018, I accompanied Vivia Wampler to a mall in Chico, California, where she often went to eavesdrop on other families. She held a Coke in one hand and a Subway sandwich in the other, her eyes scanning the food court. She...

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To Love an Addict

To Love an Addict

On our second date, he was tripping on mushrooms. All logic says I should have run the other way. But I did the opposite. I didn’t know anything about his alcoholism yet.

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Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #3

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #3

by Nicholas Rombes From Citizen: An American Lyric, by Claudia Rankine, 2014. The days of our childhood together were steep steps into a collapsing mind. The sentence appears a little over halfway through the book in the section titled “February 26, 2102 / In Memory of Trayvon Martin,” and it...

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Jessica Sequeira on Xanthi Barker

Jessica Sequeira on Xanthi Barker

The short novel or story can be so condensed it requires multiple scans, just like a poem. I read Xanthi Barker’s nouvelle three times and each time had a different response.

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One Perfect Sentence #1

One Perfect Sentence #1

Not “my mother stayed alive” but “my mother’s body.” The sentence comes near the midpoint of the novel as the narrator thinks back to the death of her parents. Her mother is in a coma where...

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Again They Are Scared

Again They Are Scared

When Chinese law professor Xu Zhangrun began publishing articles last year criticizing the government’s turn toward a harsher variety of authoritarianism...

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Lying Awake At Night

Lying Awake At Night

About once in so often you are due to lie awake at night. Why this is so I have never been able to discover...

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Clubbing

Clubbing

The Literary Club, known simply as “The Club,” was established in early 1764 after the portrait painter Joshua Reynolds became worried about his friend Samuel Johnson...

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