The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

Shop though these links = Support this site


Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

The Lit City Study, Pt II

In the comments field to yesterday’s Lit City post, Bud Parr raises some significant objections. There’s four main sortcomings he sees in the study:

1. The study regarded quantity of bookstores over quality, i.e., a boutique gift-bookstore counted for as much as a Tattered Cover or a Elliot Bay or a City Lights.2. Readings and other literary events were not considered at all in the study.3. It appears that universities (and possibly their libraries) were not counted, and/or not weighted for in the study.4. Socio-economics. Bigger cities are going to take a huge hit for having significant populations . . . continue reading, and add your comments

How Lit is YOUR City?

In what is destined to become the New Year’s Weekend topic of conversation, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater presents the 2004 edition of their study, America’s Most Literate Cities. (thanks to GalleyCat for the link)

Some of the ranks come off as a little funny (for instance, is Los Angeles really the 68th most literate city in the country?), but there’s lots of interesting information here. It ranks the top periodical publishers by the number of magazines with circulation over 2,500 and the number of journals over 500 published in a city. I don’t see the actual . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Medium of Fiction

A while back I literally pulled William Gass’s Fiction and the Figures of Life out of a dump. There were these bookshelves where anyone could leave or take books, and I guess periodically the shelves get cleared out with the rest of the trash in the junkyard. Anyway, like most books I get for $1 or less, I stuck it somewhere in my apartment and promptly forgot it existed. I finally got around to looking through it and Gass’s writing is quite interesting.

In this collection is a short work entitled "The Medium of Fiction." It’s brief–only 7 . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Lit Journals

The NYTBR has an article on literary journals. It’s pretty  much "gee whiz, look at all this QUIRKY stuff going on UNDER THE RADAR." Really, I’d satirize it more but I’m tired. I apologize. (I’ve had a long day.)

"There are more literary magazines out there than ever, and it’s an important part of the literary world’s unsung heroes," said Jeffrey Lependorf, executive director of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, founded to help literary magazines compete in the marketplace. "If you’re interested in experimental poetry there’s a journal for you. If you’re interested in Southern culture, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recent Readings

"There’s more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce."–Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things___________________________________________

"A friend asked me to explain how we were adapting ["Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail"] for the stage, and I thought about it and said, ‘O.K., you know how, in the movie, there’s a cow that flies out of a castle and lands on a page? Well, in the musical, the cow has a singing part.’"–Mike Nichols on the upcoming Monty Python Broadway musical, "Spamalot," from The New Yorker, 12/20, 12/27___________________________________________

"Time itself had been . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Why review?

There’s an interesting discussion going around the blogs on the proper role of book reviews. Dan Green sums the discussion up in this post (I’ve added a comment to Dan’s post, so see that if you’re interested in my take).

BTW, I recently read the infamous McSweeney’s essay on snark. I only mention this because it seems (at least for the time being) inextricably tied to any discussion of what reviews should do. I found the essay a little haphazard. It is very erudite and brings in some good facts, but I didin’t really see it . . . continue reading, and add your comments

John Henry Days — Colson Whitehead

John Henry Days, Colson Whitehead (Anchor Books: 2001)

"Race and Modernity in Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist", Michael Berube, published in The Holodeck in the Garden: Contemporary American Fiction (Dalkey Archive: 2004)

"E Unibus Pluram", David Foster Wallace, published in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again (Back Bay Books: 1997)

The Soul of Wit

1.

Right about now, irony and sarcasm are pretty hot stocks. They were the magic at the center of the 1990’s most popular, and most clever, sit-com (Seinfeld), they’re used in commercials every day to sell products, and, really, they’re a big . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things

After hearing Gilbert Sorrentino’s name tossed around on a couple notable blogs, I knew I would have to check him out sooner or later. I had a few books I wanted to get to before Sorrentino, but last week I finally picked up Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things and so far I have not been disappointed.

I’ll say that Sorrentino’s style takes a minute to get used to. Even though I had heard that he eschews plot and is highly experimental, I still was taken aback by the abrupt shifts and long narrator-reader monologues that often come . . . continue reading, and add your comments

When You Have Too Many Books

Consider this a service from one reader to another. Although in the abstract the concept of too many books may seem nonsensical (like "too much oxygen"), be forewarned that there is a definite threshold beyond which further accumulation of books can be detrimental. In some cases, it may ruin your life.

It is often difficult to judge for yourself if you have too many books. In fact, one of the most insiduous things about the overaccumulation of books is that you are often not aware that you have a problem until it is too late.

In this spirit, I . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recent Readings

“The room was filled with smoke, dry worn-out smoke retaining in it like a web the insective cadavers of dry husks of words which had been spoken and should be gone, the breaths exhaled not to be breathed again.” (194)

–William Gaddis, The Recognitions

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“Hands on, garmet off. She had no idea what she wanted him to do, but it was off . . . continue reading, and add your comments