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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You Say

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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

Holiday Books 2008

So this is what was either gifted to me or that I subsequently purchased in conjunction with the holidays this year:

To Siberia by Per PettersonIn the Woods by Tana FrenchSabbath’s Theater by Philip RothTrue to Life by Lawrence WeschlerAlphabet Juice by Roy Blount, Jr.The Golden Notebook by Doris LessingSelected Verse by Federico Garcia LorcaFin-de-Siecle Vienna by Carl E. SchorskeMusic Theory by George Thaddeus JonesThe Joy of Music by Leonard BernsteinWhat to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland

For more on what readers of this blog received . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TNR on A Mercy

The New Republic offers a lengthy consideration of Toni Morrison’s newest novel:

In A Mercy, more than in any of Morrison’s previous books, slavery is as much a metaphor for the human condition as it is a historical fact. The novel is an extended consideration of the many ways in which people deliberately or unconsciously assert ownership over each other: spouses, lovers, mothers and children. The language in which Jacob considers his requirements for a wife — "an unchurched woman of childbearing age, obedient but not groveling, literate but not proud, independent but nurturing" — is a slightly . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Jeff Barry on the Future of Book Design

Richard Nash takes some lengthy quotes from Jeff Barry on the future of book design, with regard to the growth of ebooks. His fifth point is the one that’s most pertinent for me:

5) Print book designers will still flourish as some publishers will realize that a niche audience is willing to pay a premium for a wonderfully designed book, heralding a surprising renaissance in book design. Also, print book designers can design PDF-based e-books with no problem since PDF is usually a byproduct in the print book design process.

Jeff Barry, in case you’re asking, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

eBook Market Expanding

The New York Times reports that Amazon’s Kindle is currently out of stock, letting some of the other players in the field move in.

The $359 Kindle, which is slim, white and about the size of a trade paperback, was introduced a year ago. Although Amazon will not disclose sales figures, the Kindle has at least lived up to its name by creating broad interest in electronic books. Now it is out of stock and unavailable until February. Analysts credit Oprah Winfrey, who praised the Kindle on her show in October, and blame Amazon for poor holiday planning. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Yet Another “False Memoir”

You’d think after Frey et al. publishers would have become a bit more skeptical of incredible stories that jus sounded too good to be true.

A man whose memoir about his experience during the Holocaust was to have been published in February has admitted that his story was embellished, and on Saturday evening his publisher canceled the release of the book.

A bound proof of “Angel at the Fence” circulated in advance of the publication date. And once again a New York publisher and Oprah Winfrey were among those fooled by a too-good-to-be-true story.

The . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Onward to 2009

The Guardian previews some of the books to be published next year. Among others included is Pynchon, which everyone must certainly be aware of now, as well as AS Byatt, Geoffrey Dyer, and Kazuo Ishiguro (although his is not a novel but a short story collection).

Philip Roth is also publishing a new novel, which makes something like 4 in the last 8 years. That’s excessive.

If Amis’s new novel looks designed to be provocative, then the same is true of the forthcoming one by Philip Roth, The Humbling (also out in September). The . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Sontag’s Diaries

Catching upon some of the coverage surrounding the publication of Susan Sontag’s first diary volume. Craig Seligman’s review in Bookforum reads like a rushed blog post:

Anyway, she wasn’t a writer whose life was informed by a few large ideas (except, perhaps, for seriousness, which isn’t an idea but an attitude). She was as promiscuous intellectually as she was with her body; or, more accurately (in both cases), she was serially monogamous. Though she had her cynosures, what always excited her was the new theory or writer or director, which she would wrestle into an essay and then . . . continue reading, and add your comments

New Arabian Nights Translation Review

The Guardian considers the new translation of The 1,001 Arabian Nights.

The review includes an interesting bit about the provenance of the stories:

When the stories passed from the storyteller to the scribe, nobody knows. The oldest surviving manuscript containing some of the stories and the Shahrzad motif, which is now in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, goes back only to the 15th century.

It was this manuscript that the French antiquarian Antoine Galland discovered and translated into French as Les Mille et une nuits between 1704 and 1717, thus launching the Nights’ brilliant second career in Europe . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Secret Santas

Theoretically, we generated between $2,100 and $3,500 for small and indie presses this year. Awesome.

And, a pretty bad-ass collection of suggested reads.

Holiday Books

What did books you receive during the holidays, and what books are you planning to purchase with your holiday cash?