Believer in Oulipo


The Believer looks at the members of Oulipo.

The Beautiful Outlaw is a type of lipogram (for more about which, see below) wherein a chosen word—often a name—is spelled out through its absence. Specifically, the work’s first sentence (or line, or stanza, or section) contains every letter of the alphabet but the first letter of the absent word, the second all but the second, and cetera. The first sentence above contains each letter but o. The second, each but u. If you can’t guess where it goes from there, I recommend you close this magazine and take a short nap.

You may object that in order to achieve this effect, I have been reduced to writing near gibberish. To which I would be tempted to respond that my work seeks out significance deeper than the merely semantic. A more honest response, however, would be that it is very, very hard to produce aesthetically satisfying results under the weight of many of these constraints and that I, frankly speaking, suck at it. In all fairness to me, though, some of the actual Oulipians are no great shakes at it either.

I’ll explain.

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All of Perec’s language games were played out en Français. How can these complicated Oulipian works possibly be deciphered? I’d like to hear from anyone who enjoyed reading Perec in English.
I haven’t read the Believer, so I don’t know if this question is already answered in the latest issue.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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