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.

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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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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

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See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Books to Watch for in 2010

Tuesday’s post on books to expect in 2010 inspired some pushback in the comments, and, actually, there are a lot of great recs there. So let’s crowdsource this. What should we be reading next year?

Here are the ones named in the comments:

And I found:

And still more:

And the Big Names

And the Lit Crit

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  1. Books Upcoming in 2010 D. G. Myers is dour about the literary prospects for 2010, and he’s got a lengthy list of expected novels plus pithy summaries to prove...
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23 comments to Books to Watch for in 2010

  • Jonathan Post

    It should be noted that ‘The Return’ is Putas Asesinas and thus will only be partly new for readers of Last Evenings on Earth.

  • Scott Bryan Wilson

    Scott–you actually didn’t get the full Vollmann title (I guess Amazon has a character limit). Here it is:
    Kissing the Mask: Beauty, Understatement and Femininity in Japanese Noh Theater, with Some Thoughts on Muses (Especially Helga Testorf), Transgender Women, Kabuki Goddesses, Porn Queens, Poets, Housewives, Makeup Artists, Geishas, Valkyries and Venus Figurines

  • DN

    Perhaps this would be a good time and place to ask this question: There are lots of works by Vollmann available and lots of them are very long. I am interested in getting into him, but have no idea where to begin. In fact, I have several of his books that I’ve picked up over the years, but have yet to read. Essentially, one day I realized I had lots of Vollman books. I’ve read parts of lots of them, and some of his short stories, parts of Atlas. I want to fall in love, though I haven’t yet (petty gripe: the funny fonts, but I’ll live). So, yes, my question is: where to begin. I’ve got Europe Central, Fathers and Crows, Argall, The Royal Family, the Abridged Rising Up, Rising Down, Atlas, Rainbow Stories and probably one more that I am forgetting. Do I begin with one of these, or is Imperial better, or perhaps this new book about Noh theater (it sounds interesting). I know I should just suck it up and dig in, but with such a project, and with such a collection, I really want to try an get started on the right foot.

  • You’re right. And thus I must ask, Why didn’t they stick with a literal translation of the title? It’s much better.

  • Tom

    Hey DN — I’ve read pretty much everything Vollmann has written. While some of his work is more accessible than others, all of it is challenging and strenuous in some way. The best place to start: The Rainbow Stories. This collection showcases nearly all of Vollmann’s signature styles and themes, and contains plenty of gorgeous writing. The narratives are also well-developed and intense. After Rainbow, I’d say check out the shorter novels: Whores for Gloria and The Butterfly Stories. The Atlas next, and if you’re still intrigued, work up to one of the big ones: The Royal Family is especially great. I would save Imperial and the Seven Dreams novels until you’re well inured to Vollmann’s style. Have fun…he is, in my opinion, the most important American writer of the moment.

  • DN

    Thanks. I have read the Rainbow Stories, or most of them. Let me rephrase though (as I have no problem or fear of long, dense writing [in fact, that's why I am interested in Vollman--it seems like it would be up my ally, but I don't know where to get in]): Which is his greatest work. I want to read him at the top of his form and go from there. So what are your favorites?

  • DN:
    I think this question will receive as many answers as there are Vollmann fans. For my own part, I think Europe Central exemplifies the best treatment of Vollmann’s core themes and concerns, but in a way that feels less indulgent than some of his other books (a concern with Vollmann).
    Of the Seven Dreams (or, rather, the four extant), I believe Argall is the most challenging/rewarding and The Ice Shirt & the Rifles the gateway ones.

  • DN

    Thanks–this is a great help.

  • Scott Bryan Wilson

    I’ve read pretty much all of Vollmann too and if you want his *greatest* book, there’s not only one. Like Scott said, as many answers as there are books. My favorite is probably The Royal Family, but I’m also very fond of Argall. For his nonfiction, I gave Imperial a pretty glowing review in the Quarterly Conversation a few months back.

  • Ellisonfan

    Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before The Shooting…

  • Jonathan Post

    Royal Family is probably my favorite fiction piece of his and it incorporates a lot of his research/writing on whores and underbelly previously written about in (the best parts of) Rainbow Stories (and various other early novels and stories I haven’t read). I feel like it best represents his fiction.
    Europe Central was spotty to me and ended up droning.

  • DN

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. What I am hearing is they are all really good, with some difference of opinion based on personal taste. The problem for me is that they all seem interesting to me, but that is generally the problem that I have in general with deciding what to read next. I want to read everything at once–and I find that that isn’t possible.
    Also, thanks to Ellisonfan for reminding me about “Three Days…” I love Invisible Man, but never read Juneteenth because I was suspicious of it. I am really looking forward to this book–I don’t think Ellison gets near as much attention as he should.

  • Invisible Man is one of the greatest novels this nation has produced, but how is Three Days more complete than Juneteenth?

  • Matt

    I contacted Open Letter about the release date for Zone and they said it will be Sept. ’10.

  • DN

    I am certainly not an expert, but it is my understanding that at his death, the manuscript that Ellison left behind was around 2000 pages. Juneteenth was the best excerpt his literary executor could put together (after several years of work), but have continued to work on organizing what was left since. The new edition/book is 1100 pages.

  • Atxaga y su provincialismo pueden resultar interesantes para fans tardíos de cierto realismo mágico….No para mí, desde luego. El Museo de la Novela Eterna es la gran novela de Macedonio Fernándz, más diré, es la novela macedoniana. Dicen que su mejor obra fue oral, no obstante, pero ese trabajo es inmenso, muy admirado por Gómez de la Serna con quien Fernández mantuvo una admirada correspondencia.

  • Sonallah Ibrahim’s Stealth (Al-Talossos), out from Aflame Books in Feb. 2010. Not to be missed.

  • Ah, queridos, he leído Un encuentro y es genial. Es un libro de ensayos pequeñito, pero Kundera lo dice al principio, de pequeños placeres. Revisita a Goytisolo, Rabelais, Beethoven. Un pequeño gran libro de un gran escritor y pensador.
    Oh, dear readers, I’ve read Encounter and it’s great. It’s a little book of essays, but, Kundera remarks at the beginning, of little pleasures. It revisits Goytisolo, Rabelais, Beethoven. A little great book from a great writer and thinker.

  • Matt

    Is there a concrete release date for David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King yet?

  • I’m curious about the english edition of The Return: what’s the source? Putas asesinas, Llamadas telefónicas, etc. I think translating short stories may be a good way for getting into Bolaño’s work. I also recommend to all readers go through the spanish version. I read some parts of Wimmer’s Savage Detectives, and even the work is solid, it’s ‘far’ from the original in a sense that you feel that the writer has created lots of different voices and it’s impressive. This is hard to find in the translation. Maybe Fresán is a better option because he writes influenced by north-american writers and has just one and recognizable voice.

  • If you want something that is not like anything out there–the same sense of moral confrontation not seen in American fiction since Moby Dick, try Lightbearer (a recreation of the Lucifer myth that takes the Biblical story and Milton to task) by yours truly. A book too controversial for a big publisher to take a chance on, but grabbed by Bold Strokes Books and just published, December 2009.

  • I assume that ‘The Return’ consists of stories in ‘Llamadas telefónicas’ and ‘Putas asesinas’ that were not collected in ‘Last Evenings on Earth’.

  • Matt

    I suppose you can add Franzen to the list. Anyone know if there is any truth to the rumors about new Cormac McCarthy and Norman Rush?

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