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 […]

TQC Favorites of 2012: K.T. Kahn

K.T. Kahn reviewed Inland by Gerald Murnane in our fall 2012 issue.

1. Ice by Anna Kavan Kavan creates a world that is the stuff of nightmares, blending reality, dreams, and fantasy in an uncanny, unsettling way. Kavan certainly deserves a much wider audience.

2. Zazen by Vanessa Veselka A truly prescient novel that taps into many political, social, and personal anxieties prevalent in America today. Veselka’s prose is raw, unflinching, poetic: Zazen is a truly remarkable debut novel. Veselka has said that Zazen arose from her inability to process the 2004 school hostage crisis . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorites of 2012: Scott Bryan Wilson

Scott Bryan Wilson is a contributing editor to The Quarterly Conversation.

*Death of a Hero (1929) – Richard Aldington – Penguin Classics is issuing a new edition of this next year; think Stoner-level bleak/intense about war

*The Keys to Tulsa (1991) – Brian Fair Berkey – the author completed this one novel before dying of a brain tumor; it’s incredibly funny and sharply written

*Crime and Punishment (1866) – Fyodor Dostoyevsky – you see, this guy commits a senseless murder OKAY I KNOW I KNOW I should have read this years ago

*Fathers and Sons . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorites of 2012: Jeff Bursey

Jeff Bursey’s most recent review for The Quarterly Conversation was of My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard in the Winter 2013 issue.

#1: My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard. This hit me where I write and in what I think of family relations. To the first: the play of ideas mixed with the recitation of events is powerful. Too few writers think that ideas can be exciting, and they belabour plot and character instead. To the second: the re-appraisal of family relations means more to me now than it might have five years go, for example, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Calling All Laszlo Krasznahorkai Fans

If you are a serious reader of Laszlo Krasznahorkai, you must get a copy of Music and Literature Issue 2, publishing this spring. There is simply no other way to put it. Issue 2 will cover Krasznahorkai, Max Neumann (whom Krasznahorkai collaborated with for AnimalInside), and Bela Tarr (whom he collaborated with for films).

Among the writers featured in M&L 2 will be David Auerbach, Sergio Chejfec, George Szirtes, Dan Gunn, Sandor Radnoti, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Justin Beplate, and Paul Kerschen. It will also include a lengthy essay by myself on Krasznahorkai, as well as my interview with Seiobo’s . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorites of 2012: Erica Mena

Here are the 5 picks from TQC Poetry Editor Erica Mena.

1. The Keep by Emily Wilson This book demands to be consumed slowly, word by word. Each poem a dense wordscape that must be read and reread, immersed in and languished over. Its rich and lush and slow. Luxurious.

2. Voyager by Srikanth Reddy An immense work. Haunting, lyric, and perhaps the most successful erasure I’ve ever read. The three erasures construct three different takes on the horrors and strangeness of the twentieth century. The third, the bulk of the book, moves the fastest for me . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Hits WSJ Year-Best List

Congrats to self-published author Sergio De La Pava for having his A Naked Singularity appear among the Wall Street Journal’s best books of 2012.

Here is our Naked Singularity reading group from this past summer.

And Scott Bryan Wilson’s Quarterly Conversation review of the book, which played a key role in making this happen.

TQC Favorites of 2012: Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson reviewed The Planets by Sergio Chejfec in the Winter 2013 issue.

Reiner Stach, KAFKA: THE DECISIVE YEARS The first volume of Stach’s three-volume biography is already one of the finest I’ve read in years. Here is a portrait of an artist at work, in love, and in strife. Highly recommended not only readers of modernity’s master, but for those who want to see what one can do through the art of biography.

Sergio Chejfec, MY TWO WORLDS The inner world spilling into the outer, and the outer crowding its way into the world, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorites of 2012

We’ve polled a number of editors and contributors to The Quarterly Conversation for the favorite reads of the year, and we will be rolling them out over the rest of the year, starting today. So, enjoy.

The End of Oulipo?

Just printed out a copy of The End of Oulipo? to give to the great translator of Georges Perec and author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear?, David Bellos.

It’s publishing in 1 month, so if you want it, head to Amazon or B&N.com.

The White Review Issue 6

Contains my essay “The Literary Ouroboros,” plus lots of other stuff that looks excellent (and no doubt will be proven excellent once my copy arrives. So buy it.

You can read Rose McLaren’s essay on the films of Bela Tarr, plus select other items, for free online.