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The Threepenny Review

The Threepenny Review Winter 2019

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The Threepenny Review is a well-regarded quarterly of the arts and society which has been published since 1980. Every issue contains excellent essays, stories, poems, and memoirs, plus beautiful black-and-white photographs. Its regular writers include six Nobel Prizewinners and four U.S. Poet Laureates; recent issues featured writing by Wendell Berry, Geoff Dyer, Louise Glück, Greil Marcus, Javier Marías, Adam Phillips, and Kay Ryan.

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United States
The Threepenny Review
$9.98(Incl. tax)
$35.55(Incl. tax)
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

Bryce T. Bauer is the author of Gentlemen Bootleggers and New Rum: A Modern Guide to the Spirit of the Americas. John Burnside’s most recent collection of poems is Still Life with Feeding Snake. He lives in the Scottish countryside. Cara Losier Chanoine has published two poetry collections, How a Bullet Behaves and Bowetry: Found Poems in David Bowie Lyrics. Dalton Day, who teaches pre-school, is the author of a collection of plays, Exit, Pursued. Dante de Blasio is a student at Yale University. Margaret Drabble’s last novel, The Dark Flood Rises, was published in 2016. Her essay in this issue commemorates her daughter, Rebecca Swift; details of the Rebecca Swift Foundation, which supports women poets, can be found at www.rebeccaswiftfoundation.org. Nicholas Friedman is the author of Petty Theft, winner of the 2018 New Criterion Poetry…

16 min.
table talk

THE THEREMIN looks less like a musical instrument than it does a transistor radio, or a telegraph machine, or the black boxes that survive plane crashes. It has antennae, as if it could pick up lost broadcasts, as if it might be something extraterrestrial. One antenna controls pitch, and one controls volume. To play the theremin, you do not touch it. Instead, you must choreograph the movement of your hands around the antennae in nuanced measures. To play the theremin, you must make music of thin air, never sure if you are transmitter or receiver. Sometimes, I think that I’ve been trying to play the theremin my whole life. When I was ten, I began to play the flute. I learned to kiss the metal lips of its mouthpiece, I learned…

1 min.
fade out

The flashlight my sister sweptacross the heavens got no responseeither. When my brother leaves his lab,he’s still limping and our governor’s demandingfunerals for aborted fetuses and where’sa fetus gonna get the scratch for that?So yes, there are dark shapes in doorways.Can’t be helped. Today, I found a chunkof amethyst with a face inside you could tellwas willing to wait another million yearsfor its scream to come out so let thatbe a lesson. Ditto the same cuckoothat followed Tomaz out of Chinatries to follow me but gets slapped backin security and I don’tjust don’t. Maybe Jay’s right that it allcomes down to one untranslatablefragment of Parmenides. Like whena dead child is covered with petalsor a goat receives a garland of bells.It’s a thin red thread that holdsthe soul to the earth.…

1 min.
thanks to our donors

The Threepenny Review is supported by Hunter College, the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Campizondo Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, and the George Lichter Family Fund. Our writer payments are underwritten by our Writers’ Circle, which includes Robert Bauer, Richard V. Clayton, Susan Knapp, Eunice & Jay Panetta, Robert Redford, Neal Rosenthal & Kerry Madigan, Alice Sebold, and Pablo Woodward. Many other generous individuals, whose names are printed annually in the spring issue, also assist us in keeping the magazine going. Heartfelt thanks to all!…

1 min.
a note on the artworks

Peter J. Cohen is a New York–based collector of snapshots and vernacular photographs. Cohen began collecting vernacular photography over twenty-five years ago at thrift stores and flea markets. Since then he has amassed a collection of approximately fifty thousand photographs which are organized into over a hundred categories. The collection spans much of the twentieth century and encompasses many different processes, including gelatin sylver, cyanotype, collodion, hand-tinted, chromogenic color, and Polaroids. This stunning collection offers a visual history of amateur photographers’ engagement with the medium. While still avidly collecting, Cohen plans to give away much of the assembled work to institutions around the world. He has already donated significant portions of his collection to museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MOMA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Morgan Library,…

9 min.
unfinished portrait

I SHALL NEVER finish what would have been my twentieth novel. When I started it, it was to be called Iridescence, but after I had been working on it for a while I changed the working title to Butterfly. The opening image was of bubbles floating over a hedge into a neighboring garden, bubbles blown by two fair-haired Polish girls. This in time linked itself in my mind to the image in Thomas Gainsborough’s celebrated painting of his two daughters chasing a butterfly (c. 1756), a work which remained, like many of his family portraits, unfinished. The grandfather of the narrator in my novel was to have been an Oxford entomologist, and for a while I interested myself in insects, attending a short course on diptera at the Natural History…