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.


  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

Friday Column

Friday Column is on holiday break. Happy New Year.

Barnes on Barnes

Julian Barnes on himself in The New Yorker. I ususally don’t like this kind of thing, but Barnes is an exception.

I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him. That’s what I say when the question is put. I once asked my brother, who has taught philosophy at Oxford, Geneva, and the Sorbonne, what he thought of such a statement, without revealing that it was my own. He replied with a single word: “Soppy.”     

The person to begin with is my maternal grandmother, Nellie Louisa Scoltock, née Machin, who was a schoolteacher in Shropshire . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Price Wars Hurt Indies

The Guardian looks at the effects of big box price wars on independent bookstores.

The problem, independent booksellers claim, is that publishers accord huge discounts to bulk buyers such as Amazon and Tesco, but not to anything like the same degree to smaller outlets. So a two-tier system is created, where independents charge more for many titles – they cannot compete with the aggressive price wars engaged in by the giants, and risk going to the wall. And, as the supermarkets increase their market share – from 9% of the book market in 2004 to 12% in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Bad News/Good News

The Bad News:

The Siena Research Institute conducted a national survey of 4,125 college freshmen and 215 faculty regarding familiarity with 30 "Great Books" for the third time (after 1997 and 2006) — and finds a continuing decline in what the students have read.

The Good News: the "30 Great Books" were selected by William Bennet.

As the Albany Times-Union blog points out, some of these "books" aren’t exactly books. The complete works fo Shakespeare (including the poems) counts as one book? The Decleration of Independence? (Although, I guess I’m pretty surprised that . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Author Asks Amazon to De-List Him

George Walker, anti-Amazon crusader.

A children’s author has drawn attention to the plight of independent bookshops by demanding that his book be removed from sale on Amazon’s UK website.

George Walker, author of Tales from an Airfield, was horrified to find that his new title was featured on the site without his permission, following good sales in bookshops. "What they are actually doing is getting the independents to do their market research," said Mr Walker, a passionate advocate of independents. "When a book gets a certain amount of attention, they will attempt to stock it and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Not Good

This.

"Publishing is now very much like opening weekend grosses in the movie business, it’s about exploding out of the box and selling as many copies as quickly as possible," says Roger Cooper, Vanguard’s publisher.

A little context is in order. This is from an article on a small publisher (Vanguard), which has become a repository of big name autors (David Morrell and others) hoping to get market traction.

I think the above quote represents a bad trand in publishing, but I’m heartened to see that

Mr. Morrell says he is involved . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Pynchon is the Future

Over at The Valve:

In this post, I grapple with my own search for a successor to a rather embarrassing interest in Tom Robbins, Jack Kerouac, and Henry Miller—somebody who could complement the problematic works of Hermann Hesse. I am also trying to describe an alternative to the modernist tragedians, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and J. D. Salinger.

I claim to find this alternative, successor, and complement in Thomas Pynchon, because of The Crying of Lot 49. Included here are some close readings of The Crying of Lot 49 that may remind you to open it . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Bernhard in New Yorker

Thomas Bernhard’s work is discussed in The New Yroker.

Like Kafka, one of the writers he most admired, Bernhard composed nearly all his fiction from a single template, a template already evident in “Frost.” His typical protagonist—often loosely based on a real-life model, such as Glenn Gould or Ludwig Wittgenstein—is a genius who is obsessed with an impossible project and is eventually destroyed by the tension between the desire for perfection in his work and the knowledge that it is unattainable. In “Correction” (1975), the scientist Roithamer spends years building a structure in the shape of a geometrically . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Lolita

Your Holiday Homework, cortesía of The Valve:

Suppose one were to ask the following questions:

• What are the demands made by the novel? (In addition to freedom from tyranny, and the right to innocence, these undoubtedly include passion, exceptionality, and beauty. That is to say that they include what Humbert wants. I am not referring here to the specific symptom of pedophilia.)

• How do Humbert’s crimes satisfy a number of these demands?

• What tools does the novel provide for satisfying these demands differently, without causing harm?

This is the only . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Gargantua and Pantagruel

Lucy Ellmann on one of the most racuous books to come out of the 16th century (or any other, for that atter).

François Rabelais couldn’t get enough of arseholes. When the giant Gargantua is born, the midwives can’t tell at first if his mother’s in labour, or merely evacuating her bowels of the 16 tuns, two gallons and two pints of tripe she’s been eating. Another curious meal includes "fine turds, tweak-nose style", "Athenian rump", "shitlets", "collared bullfarts", "stitched bum-stirrings", "dirty-filths", "puffs-up-my-bum" and, for dessert, "shit drench with blossoming turds". Here are some books . . . continue reading, and add your comments