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 […]

36 Outstanding Novellas

A list of some of my favorite novellas:

Death in Venice — Thomas Mann
The Turn of the Screw — Henry James
The Metamorphosis — Kafka
Heart of Darkness — Joseph Conrad
The Invention of Morel — Adolfo Bioy Casares
The Crying of Lot 49 — Thomas Pynchon
The Dead — James Joyce
The Death of Ivan Ilyich — Leo Tolstoy
Things — Georges Perec
The Watcher — Italo Calvino
The Marquise of O — Heinrich von Kleist
Billy Budd, Sailor — Herman Melville
An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter — Cesar Aira
Train Dreams — Denis Johnson
Bonsai — Alejando Zambra
The Walk — Robert Walser
Chess Story — Stefan Zweig
The Lifted Veil — George Eliot
The Girl with the Golden Eyes — Honore de Balzac
The Lime Twig — John Hawkes

And I tossed the question out to Twitter:

@dgooblar
Seize the Day — Saul Bellow
The Ghost Writer — Philip Roth

@darrananderson1
Heart of a Dog — Mikhail Bulgakov
A Country Doctor’s Notebook — Mikhail Bulgakov

@AhabLives
Melanctha — Gertrude Stein
Pale Horse, Pale Rider — Katherine Anne Porter
First Love — Samuel Beckett

@cbhathco
The Old Forest — Peter Taylor
The Beggar Maid — Alice Munro

@biblioklept
Benito Cereno — Herman Melville
Hadji Murad — Leo Tolstoy
Chronicle of a Death Foretold — Gabriel García Márquez
The Bear — William Faulkner

@jhm001
@wpwend42
The Aspen Papers — Henry James

@kudera
Benito Cereno — Herman Melville

@svanneil
Notes from Underground — Fyodor Dostoevsky

@IneluctableQuak
Battles in The Desert — Jose Emilio Pacheco

Plus 2 more

@jsief
The Pilgrim Hawk — Glenway Wescott
The Letter Left to Me — Joseph McElroy

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. From the Central Lavatory Review of Beckett’s Collected Poems: When Samuel Beckett was asked to write the libretto for a short opera in 1958, he managed to complete just...
  2. I Guess Paper Was in Short Supply? JC Hallman is blogging the highlights of the correspondence between William and Henry James in conjunction with a book he's writing about . . ....
  3. Frank on Oblomov Joseph Frank, who, unless this is some kind of rare-but-possible mix-up, is the biographer of Dostoevsky has written on the recent translation of the Russian...
  4. 4 Novellas, 4 Formats? This seems like an interesting project. Author Mike Heppner is publishing a series of four (thematically) linked novellas. Number 4 is available to you, reader,...
  5. Two New Novellas from Gabriel Josipovici The author of Goldberg: Variations (see our review if you’re not familiar) has just published two new novellas (via This Space). And here’s the...

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13 comments to 36 Outstanding Novellas

  • Birne

    Michael Kohlhaas, Heinrich von Kleist
    The Golden Pot, E.T.A. Hoffmann
    The Rider on the White Horse, Theodor Storm
    Lieutenant Gustl, Arthur Schnitzler
    Mario and the Magician, Thomas Mann
    Cat and Mouse, Gunter Grass

    A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
    Billy Budd, Herman Melville
    Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, R.L. Stevenson
    Animal Farm, George Orwell

    By Night in Chile, Roberto Bolano

  • DCN

    In addition to many already named:

    “The Shawl” and “The Messiah of Stockholm” by Cynthia Ozick
    “Death in Spring” by Merce Rodoreda
    “The Journey of Ibn Fattouma” by Naguib Mahfouz
    “The Vet’s Daughter” by Barbara Comyns
    “Hour of the Star” by Clarice Lispector

  • p.t.smith

    Dammit. Considering that I went to the bookstore last night specifically to buy novellas, I saw this a day late.

  • Chuck

    “The Duel” by Anton Chekhov should be added to the list. I’d also include “Rita Heyworth and The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Body” by Stephen King. While neither might be included in a list of classic literature, both showcase King at his finest, and served as source material for two excellent films (The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me.) “Bartleby The Scrivener” by Herman Melville should also be mentioned.

  • Bartleby the Scrivener will always be my number one. More recently: Customer Service by Benoit Duteurtre, Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos, and The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin. Top notch!

  • PStoakes

    Rock Crystal: Adelbert Stifter
    The Driver’s Seat: Muriel Spark
    A Beleaguered City : Margaret Oliphant

  • Eric

    Pelevin’s Omon Ra and Cesar Aira’s The Literary Conference are also excellent.

  • [...] Novellas (novellae?) to read. [via Conversational Reading] [...]

  • m. klausman

    mikhail zoschenko – before sunrise
    haniel long – interlinear to cabeza de vaca
    john fuller – flying to nowhere
    ivan olbracht – the sorrowful tears of hannah karajich
    julien gracq – king cophetua
    claudio magris – inferences from a saber
    pierre michon – the origin of the world
    jaimy gordon – circumspections from an equestrian statue
    yury tynanov – lieutenant kije/young vitushishnikov
    gerhard roth – the will to sickness
    arno schmidt – school for atheists
    jose donoso – hell has no limits
    alejo carpentier – the kingdom of this world
    jaime de angulo – the lariat
    james schuyler – alfred & guinevere
    nikolai leskov – musk ox
    tom pickard – guttersnipe
    ermilo abreu gomez – canek
    frigyes karinthy – voyage to faremido/capillaria

  • Michael Travis

    The Late Bourgeois World by Nadine Gordimer
    Party Going and Loving by Henry Green

  • david kelly-hedrick

    Legends of the Fall, The Woman Lit by Fireflies, Brown Dog, and Revenge by Jim Harrison

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