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

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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.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

The Karen S. Kingsbury Interview

Karen S. Kingsbury is the translator of Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang.

1. How did you discover the work of Eileen Chang?

I first encountered Chang during my graduate studies in Comparative Literature. I was reading modern Chinese fiction, sometimes in the original but often in translation, and keeping an eye out for works that would appeal to English-language readers. Reading in Chinese was still very difficult for me, and “Love in a Fallen City” was the first piece of modern Chinese literature that really grabbed me. I stumbled through the story, pulled along by the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Boldtype

I see that the March issue of Boldtype is now online. Check out my very enthusiastic review of Wizard of the Crow.

And I’ll say it one more time: read this book. Just plain excellent.

Litblogosphere-Approved

NYTBR does good. Some good.

Bloggies

I dunno, maybe the Bloggies are a bigger deal that I realized, but I find it difficult to get too worked up over blog awards. (But then again, I can hardly rouse proper indignation for the Booker et al., so maybe I’m the wrong person to ask.)

Nevertheless, in this post on the Bloggies’s indifference toward the litblogosphere, I think Max makes a very apropos remark:

I have come to believe, and I hope people agree with me, that book blogging is more than just a hobby. I say this not in a self-promotional or self-aggrandizing way (so . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Classical Music Not Dead

Well, well, well. Alex Ross:

More on that 22.5% bump in classical record sales: reports from insiders suggest that the rise is not, in fact, due to crossover fare (Il Divo, André Rieu, the Dowland-howling Sting) but to the real thing (Mozart, Beethoven, Louis Andriessen). All categories of classical music are selling briskly on online stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ArkivMusic as well as on iTunes and other MP3 outlets. There’s a good article by Symphony‘s Jayson Greene on the phenomenon, with reference to the Long Tail effect. Everyone seems to . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Three From the Guardian

The way things have been going lately, I should just program Typepad to do an automatic post to the newest Guardian Review every week. At least three articles are definitely worthy of your attention this week:

Shakespeare’s sonnets, for the first time ever, are being set to music.

Turning to the Shakespeare sonnets feels very satisfying, a natural progression both from other musical work on sonnets and from other settings of poetry. The sonnets interconnect and cross-refer in endlessly fascinating ways. Two that I chose contain quite specific musical references, which I have followed. Sonnet 128 refers to . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Secret Workings of the NYTBR Revealed!

Well, not quite that thrilling, but there is some useful info here.

The part I find most interesting is that the Book Review "winnows down" from 1,000 books per week. I don’t know how common this is, but I submit that if a large amount of the time of you and your assistant editors is spent tossing out books you’re not interested in reviewing, then you’re losing out on time that could be well spent making the Book Review a better product.

Again, for all I know this is SOP at all major papers nationwide, but it would . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Top Top Ten

J. Peder Zane’s new book The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books, is an interesting little item. Of course, we’ve all had our fill of top ten lists to the point that it’s socially inept to express too much enthusiasm for them any more. (Sven Birkerts, for example, in his introductory essay: "ranked lists of writers or books are my Achilles heel.") All too often they just tell us what we already know, and even though Birkerts tries valiantly to take away something, truth be told, I don’t think the aggregated Top Top Ten List presented . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Following Story

A teacher of Dutch–well, if you wanted to draw a cartoon of the type, you could take him as your model. Teaching children the language they were already hearing in the echo chamber of the womb long before they were born, and stunting the natural growth of that language with tedious drivel about ordinal numbers, double possessives, split infinitives, predicate nouns, and prepositional phrases is bad enough, but to look like an underdone cutlet and pontificate about poetry, that’s too much. And not only did he lay down the law about poetry, he wrote it too. Every few years . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LATBR Revolutions?

Who knew the atypical format of Mark Z. Danielewski’s Only Revolutions would prove so popular that the LA Times woud adapt it for its book review section?

LA Observed reports that drastic change is in store for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Top brass is planning to take the stand-alone Sunday Book Review section and fold it in with a new opinion section that will appear in Saturday papers. Even more preposterous, the plan is to print this new section so that the reader will have to flip the section 180 degrees around to read each . . . continue reading, and add your comments