The Threepenny Review

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The Threepenny ReviewThe Threepenny Review

The Threepenny Review Spring 2016

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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The Threepenny Review
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4 Issues


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Susan Bernofsky runs the literary translation program at the Columbia School of the Arts. She is currently at work on a biography of Robert Walser. Wendell Berry, who farms on a hillside in Kentucky, is also a novelist, poet, environmental activist, and cultural critic. His forty books include Andy Catlett, A Place on Earth, Standing by Words, and Given. Caroline Bynum’ most recent book is Christian Materiality: An Essay on Religion in Late Medieval Europe. She is a professor emerita of medieval European history at Princeton and Columbia. L. A. Chavez lives in the Berkshires. This is his first publication in print. Mimi Chubb is a former deputy editor of The Threepenny Review. She has almost completed her first novel. Edmund de Waal, a potter who lives in London, is the author of The Hare…

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table talk

I LEFT MY optometrist’s office and found by my car’s tire a small bird, unmoving, with squinted lids. I grabbed one of the Lasik pamphlets and gently nudged it, thinking that if I touched a sick bird I might end up making myself ill. “Hey. Little bird,” I said. It opened its eyes slightly. Then, gently and nervously, I reached for it. Holding an animal that can tear to the sky with little warning, watching it be helpless—this wild delicate thing too tired to tremble in my strange hands—made me feel feeble. I spoke to it softly and placed it on my passenger seat. As I drove home, avoiding potholes, I left the windows open, thinking the bird might suddenly come to and need to fly away. My partner, Philip, came…

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photo credits

Cover: Lower Manhattan from the Harbor, 1976. 3: Duck, Germantown, 1982. 7: William Burroughs (IV), 1975. 8: Allen Ginsberg, 1975. 10: Isaac Hayes, 1971. 11: John Waters (III), 1975. 13: Calf, Hyrkin Farm, 1978. 16: From the World Trade Center: The East River, 1976. 17: Tricycle, Key West, ca. 1957. 18: Beauregard’s Dog Pilar, 1960. 19: Volkswagen on Pile, 1984. 21: Snake on a Branch, Germantown, 1985. 24: Andy de Groat (II), 1975. 27: Divine at the Metropolitan Museum Russian Opening, (III), 1976. For additional information about the photographs of Peter Hujar and the current show of his work at Fraenkel Gallery, please see…

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the dancing plague

“My master let her go to St. Vitus-Saverne.” —Account of Frau Troffea’s St. Vitus Dance attack, as recorded by Imlin’sche, 1518 “Callin’ out around the worldAre you ready for a brand new beat?Summer’s here and the time is rightFor dancin’ in the streets” —“Dancin’ in the Streets” I. Months back, a dinner party at your place,a quiche, I think, some wine, a playlist, spacefor us to move the table back, to trace a tipsy waltz inside the rug, insidethe shadow of the houseplant, the light suppliedby a streetlamp which would flutter like a wide hug both of us just missed. The other pairdrank too much, started fighting, went to wherewe couldn’t hear them, so we moved the chair, took off our shoes, and danced. You had a shimmerin your blouse. I bought that shirt for that dinner. II. Frau…

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thanks to our donors

The Threepenny Review is supported by Hunter College, the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Campizondo Foundation, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, the Gerald Oppenheimer Family Foundation, the George Lichter Family Fund, and the Mad Rose Foundation. Our writer fees are underwritten by our Writers’ Circle, which includes Robert Bauer, Richard V. Clayton, Alan Kligerman, Susan Knapp, Eunice & Jay Panetta, Robert Redford, Neal Rosenthal & Kerry Madigan, and Pablo Woodward. Many other generous individuals, whose names are printed on pages 30 and 31 of this issue, have also helped to keep the magazine going. Heartfelt thanks to all our supporters!…

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a note on the artworks

At the time of his death in 1987, Peter Hujar’s best-known photographs were portraits of his New York friends: David Wojnarowicz, Paul Thek, Divine, John Waters, Fran Lebowitz—artists, writers, and performers whose iconic faces testified to his East Village avant-garde milieu. But his attention was broad, and his large body of work also includes cityscapes and urban still lifes, animals and nudes, abandoned buildings and European ruins. No matter the subject, his photographs convey a quality of intimacy, suggestive of both love and loss. Born in New Jersey in 1934 and living on his own by the time he was a teenager, Hujar acquired his first camera in 1947. After attending the School of Industrial Arts, he accompanied the artist Joseph Raffael to Italy, a trip that became one of his…