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 […]

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

Browse and Search Random House

Random House now lets you search through the text of roughly 5,000 titles. With the search results, you get either a dtring of about 20 words from the book, or the entire page, if it is one of the pages made available. Obviously, this is interesting in light of Google Books and Amazon Search Inside.

One other notable aspect: as part of the roll-out of the service, Random House has made available widgets that most bloggers (depending on software) can install on their blogs so that any visitor can search inside from a blog. Seems to be a . . . continue reading, and add your comments