Berfrois

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.

Read More

Why Elif Batuman doesn’t read reviews

Why Elif Batuman doesn’t read reviews

by Elif Batuman Let’s say you’re writing a book.  Every day you get up and think about it and work on it and change it. Then, at some more-or-less arbitrary point (I didn’t realize before I published a book how arbitrary this point is), it’s taken away from you...

Read More

‘Never return to the places where you’ve been happy’

‘Never return to the places where you’ve been happy’

From Granta: Never return to the places where you’ve been happy, my father always said. Ever since I started writing fiction, I’ve crafted not-always-happy stories about the country of my overwhelmingly happy childhood. It was no Utopia, of course, especially in the economic scramble after the fall of Soviet...

Read More

New York’s Greats

New York’s Greats

The Death and Life of Great New York Novels | by Tom LeClair

Barnes and Noble Review

This year is the fiftieth anniversary of The Death and Life of Great American Cities  , Jane Jacobs's groundbreaking and ground-revealing book that still influences...

Read More

F-Pynchon

F-Pynchon

by Martin Paul Eve The two, alternate titles proposed for my recent work are “The F Word” and “Whose Line is it Anyway?” The word in question is Foucault, as in Michel, and the “Line” is Pynchon’s, as in Mason & Dixon. The cursory glances that have been afforded...

Read More

Rebecca Suter on Murakami

Rebecca Suter on Murakami

Norwegian Wood, ToHo, 2011 by Rebecca Suter Murakami Haruki is perhaps the best known and most widely translated Japanese author of his generation. His latest novel, three-volume, 1600-page 1Q84, was an instant success: the first print sold out on the day it was released, and the first two volumes...

Read More

Dinnseanchas

Dinnseanchas

Ben Bulben, County Slingo, Ireland by Eamonn Wall As an immigrant from Ireland settled in Nebraska for an extended period, I was immediately excited to seek out the landscapes that comprise the American West. The western journeys I made were full of the purest pleasure. I was entering places...

Read More

Amelia Atlas on Mr. Talk

Amelia Atlas on Mr. Talk

Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Possessed), Fritz Eichenberg, 1959 by Amelia Atlas It is often said that one is either a Tolstoy person or a Dostoevsky person, in the same way that one is either a cat person or a dog person.  I used to want to be a Dostoevsky person,...

Read More

Thunder, sunlight, sweet dew, whirlwind

Thunder, sunlight, sweet dew, whirlwind

The Greatest Japanese Writer You’ve Never Heard of | by Damion Searls,

The Quarterly Conversation

Tun-huang has been an important city for millennia, on the Chinese end of the silk road, and the nearby Mogao Grottoes or Thousand Buddha Caves...

Read More

The desirable difficulty of sleeve and paint

The desirable difficulty of sleeve and paint

The Jewish Bride, Rembrandt, c. 1667 by Emma Darwin Oh, how I do love a thoroughly counter-intuitive discovery! Apparently, the plainer and cleaner the typeface, the less a reader will learn and remember of the detail of the text. A typeface which slows the reader means they learn and...

Read More

Derek Beaulieu: A Future for the Novel

Derek Beaulieu: A Future for the Novel

A Christmas Carol, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1938 by Derek Beaulieu It seems hardly reasonable at first glance to suppose that an entirely new literature might one day—now, for instance—be possible. The many attempts made these last thirty years to drag literature out of its ruts have resulted at best, in no...

Read More