Berfrois

The Appearance of Goodness

The Appearance of Goodness

There are many social-media-savvy people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion, who can fluidly pontificate on Twitter about kindness but are unable to actually show kindness...

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Making the World Something Beautiful and New

Making the World Something Beautiful and New

In some languages, like Polish, the word for share is the same as the word for divide. It took some time, but finally this did make sense to me.

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Literary Schemes

Literary Schemes

“Mystery, humor, romance, realism, risquéness—nothing is barred.” In 1915, Blue Moon, a new magazine, sought submissions from unpublished writers. They already had two stories from “a new and original humorist” whom the editor, Alexander Jessup, had “discovered laying tin roofs in a village in central Indiana.”

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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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Triple Bluffs by Jessica Sequeira

Triple Bluffs by Jessica Sequeira

Two books about solitary poets travelling the Mediterranean and writing poems came my way within a relatively short period of time; it made sense to treat them within the same space.

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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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Andrew Epstein: John Ashbery, Jordan Ellenberg and Math

Andrew Epstein: John Ashbery, Jordan Ellenberg and Math

To my surprise, in the car the other day my math-obsessed 14-year-old son Dylan suddenly exclaimed “John Ashbery!” from the backseat. It turns out he’d reached the last pages of Jordan Ellenberg's...

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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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Poetry Oblivion Evito-Meter

Poetry Oblivion Evito-Meter

What is your favourite lost poem? There’s a lot of material (not) out there to choose from, from the lost plays of Aeschylus to the discarded hospital poems of Anne Sexton and Ivan Blatný.

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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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