The Threepenny Review7 min letti
The Poet of Kyrgyzstan
THE MAN called Kenje Kara the Fiddler (real name unknown) would have been of middle age when he was called up from the village of Besh-küngöy, near the foot of the Tienshan Mountains, to entertain a peculiar group of visitors foreign to his land. Now
The Threepenny Review1 min lettiInternet & Web
The Threepenny Review Is Now Available On Jstor
We are pleased to announce that back issues of The Threepenny Review are available online through JSTOR, the not-for-profit digital archive. Researchers may search, browse, download, and print the full-text PDF versions from the journal’s first year
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
When David asks, “Where does the saying ‘She still has her marbles’ come from?” I’d been talking about my ma, who’s 94, same as David, though David said, “I’m 94 and four months, so she’s still a child.” I say, “It’s got to come from being a kid, wou
The Threepenny Review10 min letti
A Spark of Humanity
RED BEARD, Akira Kurosawa’s twenty-fourth film, was the only one he ever made that could be described unequivocally as a coming-of-age story. Set in early nineteenth-century Japan, it focuses on Noboru Yasumoto (Yûzô Kayama), a callow, proud, willful
The Threepenny Review19 min letti
T O BEGIN with I held them in awe. Tell me one time awe turned out well. THE POET with the frank gap between her front teeth was once the seraph Suburban Housewife. Babies, martinis. Her gestures run from folding to stacking to tucking in to combing
The Threepenny Review13 min lettiMedical
The Big One
AT NINETY years old, Ms. R had already survived two lung cancers. When she came to the VA radiation oncology clinic to consider treatment for what was probably a third, one part of the workup was missing: a biopsy of the tumor. It would have been ris
The Threepenny Review1 min lettiScience & Mathematics
Objects May Appear
Not a flotation device. More like a mirror wherein objects may appear closer than—Lately I’ve been penning my obituary (haven’t we all?) I crave the and then of it and left behind. Of course, survived by There is always presence wherein objects may b
The Threepenny Review5 min letti
Blood Rituals
THE PLASMA donation center is located in a part of Orlando far from the theme parks where tourists spend their money. I’m hungry. A friend tells me I can get paid, transmute my blood into packs of ramen and bags of rice. He tells me I might get some
The Threepenny Review3 min letti
Thomas Bernhard (1978)
WHEN, JUST over a month ago, Thomas Bernhard’s last play, Immanuel Kant, premiered in Stuttgart—a play in which the philosopher from Königsberg, accompanied by a servant, a parrot, and his wife, undertakes a long, long sea voyage to New York—most Ger
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
In the hospice where you died, a lot of money was spent to make the place conform to someone’s algorithm of home—shag carpeted lobby, wood paneled elevator, particle board furniture with shrink wrap thin mahogany veneer, faux marble linoleum tiles. T
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
Polk Street
I don’t remember who chose the shabby tavern on Polk Street three blocks north of Market, only that we landed there afternoons after another tedious law school class, lounging at its lacquered mahogany bar near the square, filthy, street-facing plate
The Threepenny Review7 min letti
Pandemic Piano Lessons
MY LAST in-person piano lesson happened on March 16, 2020, the day before our first shelter-in-place order took effect. I am a retired primary care doctor in California, and my son had returned from a visit to Shanghai on January 28, so I’d been foll
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
The Ballad of the Painter Antonio Ligabue
He wags his flat broad tongue at trilling birds.He halloos them and smiles through ten teeth.He swings a big square mirror from his neck.He holds it up and licks the image there. An eagle pinions a terrified upended fox. A tiger’s mouth opens like a
The Threepenny Review8 min letti
Not Writing about Cézanne
A FEW YEARS ago, reviewing a show in London of Cézanne’s paintings of cardplayers, I began by saying, “Cézanne, whose work was the touchstone for critical thinking and writing on art for more than a century, cannot be written about any more.” And wen
The Threepenny Review3 min letti
Skye Anicca’s short fiction has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Nimrod International Journal, Santa Monica Review, Passages North, and elsewhere. The poem in this issue is her first to be published in print. Elvis Bego was born in Bosnia and at prese
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
After living in this village for two months, painting the same landscape, surviving on bread and staples, I missed the city. I used to want silence until it began to cripple me so much so I conceived the idea I existed in a painting. Even when the we
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
The Threepenny Review
Editor and Publisher: Wendy Lesser Associate Editors: Sabrina Ramos Rose Whitmore Art Advisors: Allie Haeusslein Sandra Phillips Proofreader: Zachary Greenwald Geoff Dyer Deborah Eisenberg Jonathan Franzen Louise Glück Janet Malcolm Ian McEwan Rob
The Threepenny Review7 min letti
How the Cicada Screams
I ONCE ACCIDENTALLY dug up a cicada in the springtime, killing it right before it was meant to fly. The house I lived in, my parents’ house, had a ring of plants around it—the man who lived there before, by most accounts a generally grumpy and not we
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
Thanks to Our Donors
The Threepenny Review is supported by Hunter College, the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Campizondo Foundation, and the George Lichter Family Fund. Our writer payments are underwritten by our Writers’ Circle, which includes Robert Bauer, Richard V. Cl
The Threepenny Review9 min letti
Express Train
AT SIXTEEN, the price of a dream can be very high, as we would often learn that summer when the Rajdhani Express first thundered past our bedroom windows. Its maiden run from Howrah to Delhi had reverberated through our town. The few coins we had ear
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
A Note On The Artworks
Black River Falls, where the photographs in this issue were taken, is a small city in the central plains of Wisconsin. Alessandra Sanguinetti has been visiting there since 2014 to document a culture outside the ken of most Americans. Sanguinetti’s ph
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Gift Subscription
1 You agree with Adam Zagajewski, who has described The Threepenny Review as “one of the most original literary magazines not only in the U.S. but also on the entire planet.” 2 You’re in possession of singularly valuable information: only you can ju
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
Photo Credits
The fifteen photos in this issue were all taken by Alessandra Sanguinetti and are copyrighted in the name of the artist. Pier 24 Photography kindly provided us with the scans, which come from Sanguinetti’s Black River Falls series. Below are captions
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
Stockholm Syndrome
She gives him weak, he gives her his beak, a nuzzle and peck at the nape of her neck. When he gives her a sign, she gives him supine. They don’t do fiction or even prediction. He gives her grief, she gives him relief and whatever’s still sane to avoi
The Threepenny Review13 min letti
Reflections on Reading Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell Trilogy
HAPPY DISCOVERY: I’m reading a novel in which every character’s got a Holbein portrait. I know these people, have seen them everywhere—in the Frick, in the National Gallery, of course in reproductions. Thomas Cromwell’s mug, lit by the light of a clo
The Threepenny Review10 min lettiWorld
Colonel Hayashi
ALTHOUGH MY wife and I don’t belong to any Korean-American organizations and don’t live in Koreatown—we live exactly one hundred blocks north of it—we don’t shun our Korean heritage. Quite the opposite: in many ways, we’re hardcore Korean. We both sp
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
It Came Late
It was late, by then the horses were sleeping, standing up, the dark of the forest reflecting in their eyes.The tablecloth was still on the table, the breadcrumbs, the food getting cold.Those who were pregnant had already given birth, were out pushin
The Threepenny Review1 min letti
Why I Love Lame Excuses from College Freshmen
I hate it when their dads die their moms too but dad always dies more so, I relate trying to sit through class with your bones not there to support you you dissolve into the desk try to disappear just tell me your alarm did not wake you pull yourself
The Threepenny Review11 min letti
Table Talk
YOU CAN’T work in the Financial District without thinking about death, at least some of the time. For instance, each morning, walking up the subway steps at Fulton Street, the first thing I see is One World Trade Center looming above the neighborhood
The Threepenny Review2 min letti
I remember one evening in the 1970s my father saying They should write on my tombstone: “He didn’t like To be leaned on.” He was a dab hand at epitaphs. His for himself was: “He was quite good, but not quite good enough.” (And even this Was denied hi
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