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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  • The Translation Is HotThe Translation Is Hot

    While I tend to lump blockbusters into an outlier category regardless of what language they were originally written in, I do... »
  • LRB on Robbe-GrilletLRB on Robbe-Grillet

    Nice that there are still places like the LRB that publish things like this: By the time he was elected to the Académie... »
  • The Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageThe Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    This is the first review I've read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic's... »
  • Bae Suah on SebaldBae Suah on Sebald

    Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I've discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been... »
  • The Old School QCThe Old School QC

    Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary... »
  • Wallace MarginaliaWallace Marginalia

    The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace... »
  • All Hail AugustusAll Hail Augustus

    Daniel Mendelsohn's introduction to the NYRB Classics' reissue of Augustus is now available online as part of the Aug 14 issue... »
  • Anybody?Anybody?

    I don't expect The New York Times to have mastered the minutia of every single topic on earth, but it would be nice if the... »
  • A Million WindowsA Million Windows

    A nice review at Music & Literature of the latest book from Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows. For those of you who have been... »
  • Simon LeysSimon Leys

    Writer Pierre Ryckmans, aka Simon Leys, died earlier this week. So, perhaps the kind memorial messages that are appearing will... »

You Say

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  • Yuki: Silly review. His ghostly dialogue has been part of the desi
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  • Lance Edmonds: I agree with the above comment. I've regulated him to litera
  • Andrija F.: The novel's so bland it doesn't and can't provoke deep insig
  • Will: I saw that and just made the face you make when someone says
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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 […]

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?