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The Threepenny Review

The Threepenny Review Winter 2020

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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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The Threepenny Review
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4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.

Wendell Berry is a novelist, poet, essayist, farmer, environmental activist, and cultural critic. His recent books include Stand by Me, The Peace of Wild Things, and The Art of Loading Brush. Frank Bidart’s last book, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Jake Crist lives in Columbus, Ohio, and works for a supportive housing nonprofit. He has had poems in Plume, Poetry, Subtropics, and The Yale Review. Simone Di Piero’s recent book of poetry, The Complaints, and his forthcoming Fat: New and Uncollected Prose, are both published by Carnegie Mellon. Geoff Dyer’s latest books are The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand and Broadsword Calling Danny. The essay in this issue introduces his forthcoming selection of essays by D. H. Lawrence, published by NYRB Classics. Erica X Eisen’s writing appears…

15 min.
table talk

SEVERAL YEARS ago, when I was working at the British Museum, I made it a habit, if I had an extra scrap of time at the end of my lunch break, to exit the canteen into the Roman gallery, with its mum Etruscan funerary statues and cineraria, and turn right until I reached a pair of long rooms known as the horological galleries. Here, arrayed along the walls, was every manner of time-keeping device: water clocks, pendulum clocks, clocks that operated by means of a clever spring, ingenious French “mystery clocks” that hid their mechanism in a golden statue of a nymph with arm outstretched. Then, of course, there were the modern devices, sleek, steel-bodied machines operating with atomic precision. If one happened to stand in this room when the…

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 who help support the magazine are listed annually in the spring issue. Our heartfelt thanks to all!…

1 min.
a note on the artworks

For Threepenny’s fortieth anniversary issue, we have reproduced a number of photographs selected from Fraenkel Gallery’s current winter exhibit, Long Story Short. This exhibit marks Fraenkel’s own milestone as an important Bay Area arts institution, rounding off its fortieth year. The works on display highlight links between the early pioneers of photography and contemporary artists who have articulated new photo-based forms across disciplines. As in the exhibit, the photographs printed in this issue consider the range of possibilities offered by a medium that has been constantly evolving over the past two centuries. At least one work in the show dates from the 1850s; several of our selections go back to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, while the most recent work, a photocollage by Wardell Milan, is from the…

1 min.
that first snow

was like a guest-friend arriving, unannounced but kind, from another continent, bearing gifts, earnest but self-effacing, good counsel, a thrift we didn’t expect, keeping us in motion, all of us, those crossing, late night, the piazza’s travertine flags, the teenage couples, the unhoused, women in heels, selfie-stick vendors packing up, you and me, a snow that quiets the shortened, mortal day, as if our cautious guest, now already set to leave, is the whited spirit of some elsewhere substance, a silence that sustains, maintains, until, right now, as I remember, it starts to go away.…

9 min.

IT WAS H. G. Wells, I believe, who wrote a short story about contact with extraterrestrials. It is brought about from a radiohut on an English airfield. After lots of negotiations, and cautionary assurances on all sides, the earthlings finally manage to direct the extraterrestrials down onto the ground. As soon as the guests have landed, there is a thunderous “Hurrah!” in the hut, and they rush out in order to greet the friends from outer space. But these friends and their spaceship are exceedingly tiny, no more than a few millimeters, and they have landed right in front of the door of the hut, between the blades of grass. As the English crew rushes out to greet them, they are immediately crushed. In this parable, the most daunting question about…