Berfrois

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #2

Nicholas Rombes: One Perfect Sentence #2

by Nicholas Rombes From Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett, 2016. Everybody knows deep down that life is as much about the things that do not happen as the things that do and that’s not something that ought to be glossed over or denied because without frustration there would hardly be any need to daydream. The narrator…

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Jessica Sequeira: Count Crayon & Other Stories

Jessica Sequeira: Count Crayon & Other Stories

by Jessica Sequeira Count Crayon There was once a creature in charge of all the colours in the world. It was Count Crayon. It could decide whether the grass was pale or dark green, the sky blue or overcast. At first it took this power for granted. It even...

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1984 in the 1940s

1984 in the 1940s

Although the novel begins on April 4, 1984, in the dystopian empire of Oceania, its inspiration was England, circa 1946. The food is bad, and there isn’t enough of it.

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Powerfully Millennial

Powerfully Millennial

“The great millennial novelist”—the mantle has been thrust, by Boomers and Gen Xers alike, upon the Irish writer Sally Rooney, whose two carefully observed and gentle comedies of manners...

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Texting Under Drone-Crossed Skies

Texting Under Drone-Crossed Skies

The war in Afghanistan is now in its seventeenth year and, despite recent attempts to broker a lasting peace, the fight against the Taliban keeps dragging on.

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Joel Gn on Laurie Stone

Joel Gn on Laurie Stone

Most of Stone’s writings touch on the transformations from loves lost and found. In particular, the narrator’s relationship with her mother, whom she affectionately refers to as ‘Toby’ is at times strained...

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Scott Manley Hadley on Jon Fosse

Scott Manley Hadley on Jon Fosse

Of all the nations of Europe with a rich literary tradition, Norway is a country that seems–whether by accident or design–to export exclusively exquisite fiction...

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For a soi-disant parable-writer, Muriel Spark is surprisingly social in her comedy…

For a soi-disant parable-writer, Muriel Spark is surprisingly social in her comedy…

Spark’s novels – 22 in all – are the product of a ruthlessly confident, even clairvoyant sensibility, and fuse an impossible range of tones and strengths.

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Julia Kristeva had been an agent of the First Chief Directorate…

Julia Kristeva had been an agent of the First Chief Directorate…

In Laurent Binet’s novel The Seventh Function of Language (2015), Julia Kristeva is cast as a spy for Bulgarian intelligence, responsible for the death of Roland Barthes.

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“New times elicit new genres”

“New times elicit new genres”

Belarusian journalist and author Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for her work documenting the lives of Soviet and post-Soviet citizens.

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Over the Grave

Over the Grave

If the circumstances of a not-untypical Denis Johnson character are defined by the story The Starlight on Idaho – “on” not “over” because it’s actually a rehab facility.

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Mary McCarthy’s Factuality

Mary McCarthy’s Factuality

In the winter of 1960, Mary McCarthy—the writer whom Norman Mailer once described as “our saint, our umpire, our lit arbiter, our broadsword”...

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Joe Linker on Jessica Sequeira

Joe Linker on Jessica Sequeira

by Joe Linker Rhombus and Oval, by Jessica Sequeira, What Books Press, 117 pp. “Rhombus and Oval” is the title of the lead piece in this collection of stories by Jessica Sequeira, a translator of Spanish and French, and a writer. The text of twenty-one stories runs 112 pages, each...

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Scott Manley Hadley on Peter Stamm

Scott Manley Hadley on Peter Stamm

To The Back of Beyond is a beguiling novel with what initially appears to be a simple split-narrative structure. Thomas is a man of about 40 who walks out..

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Hannah Hughes: My Gray City

Hannah Hughes: My Gray City

I was eighteen years old when I was introduced to the fascinating world of Alasdair Gray. I read Poor Things (1992) in the second year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow,

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Joe Linker on Elif Batuman’s The Idiot

Joe Linker on Elif Batuman’s The Idiot

A tale told by an idiot signifying nothing might benefit from Walter Mosley’s advice in “This Year You Write Your Novel” to avoid first person narration unless you have an enthralling character. Elif Batuman’s The Idiot successfully ignores Mosley’s suggestion.

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“Why wouldn’t you call it a novel?”

“Why wouldn’t you call it a novel?”

Well, it’s actually kind of an accident that I established my career as a nonfiction writer. From childhood I wanted to be a novelist.

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