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
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • 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
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
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  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
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  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
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  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
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Bolano’s Translators

Natasha Wimmer and Chris Andrews, together for the first time?

The evening began with Andrews reading a paper on key elements of Bolaño’s “fiction-making system.” “What is this system?” Andrews said: “How does it work? Bolaño’s fiction invites us to read it genetically, looking for traces of method in the finished work,” Andrews said. “[There are] three procedures that can be discerned by genetic reading: expansion, meta-representation, and the circulation of characters.” These methods are not new literary devices, but are utilized brilliantly by Bolaño. For example, Andrews compared Bolaño reccuring characters to a technique used by Balzac and even James Fenimore Cooper. Regarding Bolano’s use of story expansion, Andrews noted that “Bolaño himself explains in a preface to Distant Star that he blew up the final chapter of Nazi Literature in the Americas because he ‘would have preferred a longer story that, rather than mirroring or exploding others, was, in itself, a mirror and an explosion.’” Andrews concluded his portion of the evening by talking about Bolano’s naturalness, or his “impression of ease” (a phrase he borrows from Nora Catelli). “Bolaño seemed to have been a compulsive storyteller,” said Andrews, “and where other Spanish writers seem to struggle with placing a philosphy or idea within plot, Bolaño was able to do this without much seeming effort.”

The discussion was then handed to Wimmer, who gave a fascinating talk about her translation process. She begins, she says, with a literal translation and then works from that to obtain a true translation. She brought up many conundrums a translator faces, such as the struggle to give lift to even the most banal sentences; when to break run-on sentences; how to find voices within Bolaño’s work; and how to translate slang. “Spanish,” Wimmer said, “maintains steady rhythm in its syntax, whereas English comes off as free-jazz.” She mentioned that the most difficult part of 2666 to translate was in “The Part about Fate,” Seaman’s long, folksy monologue about the Black Panthers and cookbook recipes.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Colin Marshall with Aira’s Translators At The Marketplace of Ideas, Colin Marshall interviews all three individuals responsible for Cesar Aira in English. And it should be said, Aira has been...
  2. The Surreal Bolano? David Varno has an interesting Bolano theory: as the author has gained market success in English, New Directions has slowly been bringing out more and...
  3. Chris Andrews Interview It starts off by mentioning his upcoming projects: The work continues!  From Bolaño, in August, we will see Andrew’s translation of The Skating Rink; in...
  4. Susan Bernofsky’s Rules for Translators 3. If the original text is not well-written, you are doomed; feel free to despair. 4. If the original is well-written, make sure you understand...
  5. More Bolano: The Return and Insufferable Gaucho New Directions keeps pumping out the Bolanos (under duress, I believe), which means that if you are a devoted fan you've got your work cut...

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