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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com

You Say

  • Graatch: Where are Bae Suah's translated novels available?
  • Yuki: Silly review. His ghostly dialogue has been part of the desi
  • WD Clarke: I just stumbled upon this 5 years late, but I appreciate the
  • 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
  • Johnb440: Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment it was extr

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 […]

2666–The Big Book of BEA?

Chad Post is declaring 2666 the "big book" of BEA

Jeff’s comments about how they marketed The Savage Detectives and what they’re doing for 2666
was fascinating to me. (As I told him afterwards, I think Jeff’s one of
the most brilliant publicists out there and I could spend a whole panel
simply interviewing him.) In a very real way, 2666 may be the “Big Book” of BEA
2008 that I claimed didn’t exist in my last post. Jeff said the
response has been overwhelming and that they gave out 400 copies (!) of
the galley at the book fair. I know print runs smaller than that . . .

He was incredibly honest about facts and figures related to The Savage Detectives,
revealing that in the catalog they put the initial print run at
35,000-40,000 and that based on advances in the mid-teens (16-17,000)
the first printing was in the low-20s. All of which is remarkable. The
Natasha Wimmer essay was a huge help in creating a context for
reviewers to approach the book, as was the website they specially
created for this book. Jeff gave both New Directions and FSG
editor Lorin Stein a lot of credit for helping make Bolano take off,
even saying that three-in-one paperback set was an idea of Lorin’s.

Since we’re talking 2666 and sales potential, I might as will blog a little about why I’m not sure 2666 will have the same appeal as TSD did.

During BEA I finally got to meet Martin Riker of the Dalkey Archive Press, and one of the things we talked about were my ongoing impressions of 2666. I really think this is a book that requires a good deal of patience from the reader, and it’s somewhat atypical among the Bolano I’ve read in that it moves extremely slowly and doesn’t have any really compelling characters.

That’s not to say that I have an unfavorable view of the book (I’ve yet to make up my mind); just that its not exactly the Bolano that people who have read the translations thus far will know.

Martin had an interesting response to this. His impression was that Bolano, especially in The Savage Detectives, had been sold as an author that pulls you in from the start and keeps holding on all the way through. His impression was that this was no small factor in this book’s broad popularity.

I can’t comment on the degree to which this is true, but, if this is true, then I think a lot of people are going to have their expectations of 2666 challenged once they start reading the book. That is, if they’re expecting something that "pulls you in," I don’t think they’ll find that in 2666.

Just to give an example, right now I’m reading a 300-page section right in the heart of 2666. This part, I think, is the main part of this book.It’s largely comprised of short (1- to 2-page) police-style narrations of discovering the bodies of murdered women and then brief explanations as to whether the murderer was found or not. That’s mostly what this section is, over and over again.

This is not the most gripping material. It’s moving at its own pace according to somewhat obscure logic, it’s frequently gruesome, and you need to have a lot of patience to let it develop on its own and speculate about where it is going. I don’t remember any section from TSD that’s like this.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. 2666 The Literary Saloon and others report that there’s now an Amazon pub date for Bolaño’s opus, in English. I’m a little divided as to whether...
  2. BEA–It’s Over The paperback edition of 2666. It’s even more beautiful in person. BEA was intense. It’s been a while since I have I been around...
  3. BEA For the five or so of you who a) want to meet me, and b) are headed to BEA this year, send me an email...
  4. 3x Bolaño in The Nation Roberto Bolaño gets triple coverge in The Nation, including, impressively, a review of one of his titles not yet available in English. Happy as I...
  5. Seattle–Book Trend-Setter The NYT wonders how three Seattle companies became gained the influence to create bestsellers. Books by relatively unknown or foreign authors become best sellers by...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

2 comments to 2666–The Big Book of BEA?

  • Wow, that section does sound . . . challenging.
    That said, I’m with Chad Post, at least to the extent that I know 2666 was the novel I had the most conversations about at BEA {Well, maybe aside from Mario Lopez’s new book about his abs.} The book itself was the main draw, but FSG’s marketing and design were also being justly rewarded for their innovation by becoming conversation topics–and buzz creators.
    That, and another conversation with friends at the show, finally led me to break down and pick up The Savage Detectives. I’m a couple years behind most people, but I think it’s finally Bolano time for me.

  • Levi,
    The design on those paperbacks was rather beautiful, wasn’t it?
    Extremely good to hear you’ve gotten a copy of TSD. I don’t think that’s the best place to start with Bolano–but who cares? I’m just happy you’re reading him!

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>