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

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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.


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  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
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  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
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  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
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96 Percent Stupid

Dalkey is getting some great coverage for their Gaddis re-releases. The New Yorker picks out a gem anecdote:

William Gaddis, in the closing pages of his colossal 1955 novel “The Recognitions,” inserts a brief scene that manages to be at once rancorously funny, brazenly self-referential, and spookily prescient about the critical fate that lay in store for his work. A book reviewer and a poet meet in a tailor’s shop; both are sitting pantsless while they wait for their respective garments to be adjusted. The poet notices an unusually thick book under the critic’s arm and asks him if he’s reading it. No, says the critic, he’s not reading it, “just reviewing it.” He complains that he’s getting paid “a lousy twenty-five bucks for the job” and that “it’ll take me the whole evening tonight.” He then tells his acquaintance that he hopes he hasn’t gone and bought the book. “Christ,” he says, “I could have given it to you, all I need is the jacket blurb to write the review.”

Though the name of the book is never mentioned, it’s fairly obviously “The Recognitions.” It’s as though Gaddis was already convinced, before he even completed his nine hundred and fifty-six-page début, that the novel was going to be treated with contempt or indifference by the literary press, and had decided to work in this gag as a sort of futile, preëmptive revenge on the critics who would never get far enough into the text to notice. His apparent pessimism was borne out: the book was reviewed quite widely, but the overwhelming majority of reviews were either dismissive of its blatant ambition or frustrated by its length and frequent impenetrability. As the novelist William H. Gass put it in his introduction to the 1993 edition of the book, “Its arrival was duly newsed in fifty-five papers and periodicals. Only fifty-three of these notices were stupid.”

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Continue the Conversation Over at The Quarterly Conversation’s Facebook page, we’re discussing the new issue. Here’s part of John Lingan’s remarks on his essay on William Gaddis: "The...
  2. The Recognitions Michael over at Culturespace is embarking on a summer reading of The Recognitions. Good luck to him. It’s a splendid novel, but it’s ground down...
  3. The Anxiety of Influence William Gaddis edition: I recall a most ingenious piece in a Wisconsin quarterly some years ago in which The Recognitions’ debt to Ulysses was established...
  4. Stupid Praise Mark Lotto, i.e. the voice of sanity. Book reviewers, on the other hand, have had no trouble making up their minds about Indecision. The Gray...
  5. Some of it is just plain stupid I’d say that the Richard Posner article on media in The New York Times is about 50/50. Fifty percent of it says intelligent things that...

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1 comment to 96 Percent Stupid

  • David Heintz

    I returned the new Dalkey edition as the type size was too small and the printing was not high quality.

    However, they have just released the book for Kindle (I have an iPad) and it is perfect…

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