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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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You Say

  • Max: Henry, it seems a little odd to say that Proust and Kafka an
  • Mike: I agree with much of this discussion, though I'm not sure wh
  • S: This outpouring has been pretty wide-spread indeed. To be ho
  • Will: Salman rushdie is a microscopic crapule on the asshole of th
  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
  • Paul: Vanessa Place's 'La Medusa' seems like an American authored
  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b

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.


  • A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

1Q84 Cover Unveiled

1Q84

As you can see above, Knopf has unveiled the cover of Haruki Murakami’s forthcoming, massive novel, 1Q84. It’s quite a pretty cover. To mark the occasion, Knopf’s blog has an informative conversation with uber-designer Chip Kidd on how he built the cover . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84 Street Date

If you’re one of the Murakami people out there, Amazon now lists 1Q84 for Oct 25 (though sans cover). . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84: English-language Publication To Start in Sept 2011

Scooped up by Knopf, as expected. Interestingly, the article only mentions the first 3 volumes, and as we all now know there'll be more, but I'd doubt that the rest wouldn't go to Vintage/Knopf as well.

Also interestingly, English-language readers will have to buy this one in at least two separate volumes. Murakami-lovers will recall that, though The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was similarly published in a serial format in Japan, U.S. readers got it all in one lump sum. Not this time:

Harvill Secker and Vintage are delighted to have acquired an ambitious trilogy from the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

More 1Q84 to Come

Didn’t realize there was a third volume in the works:

Shinchosha Publishing Co. put up posters Monday in 25 stations in the greater Tokyo area advertising a third volume in Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel “1Q84.” Murakami is currently working on the story, aiming for a release next summer, sources said. Sales of the first and second volumes, which hit the market in late May, have sold more than 2.2 million copies in all. The ads, posted in stations including Tokyo and Yokohama, say, “We will continue receiving invaluable things from the story.”

Lengthy Review of Murakami’s 1Q84

Another review of 1Q84, rather substantial.

I can’t remember the last time a foreign-language book was covered as thoroughly in English upon publication as 1Q84. We’ve already seen The Guardian report on it, this long review, and Murakami discussing it in a recent interview.

From the most recent review:

To a certain extent, 1Q84 is the simple love story that Murakami suggests, centered on the image of the jazz standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” But, of course, the book includes an array of other themes, some handled better than others. Murakami’s word choices, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

More Information on Murakami’s 1Q84

Between the widespread use of the Internet and Murakami’s huge reputation in English-speaking countries, it seems like 1Q84 is the most-widely-covered-upon-publication non-English title ever. Well, whether or not, here’s more:

“1Q84″ begins with a female protagonist, Aomame, descending an emergency staircase to an alternative reality. Though oblivious at first of having accomplished this feat, she starts to notice tiny peculiarities such as an adjustment in police firearms. Observations at odds with her memory add up and Aomame becomes increasingly confused. Yet she is, for no particular reason, easy to relate with — a fact that becomes unsettling . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Murakami Interivew

Via the Literary Saloon I see a two part interview with Murakami dealing with his recent work, including his new novel, 1Q84.

Q: For the first time in one of your full-length novels, the narrative is given in the third-person. However, an intimacy close to that of a first-person narrative is maintained, and the young people in it are beautifully depicted. This made me realize once again that, even though you have been writing novels for the past 30 years, your work is still literature about early adulthood.

A: As they age, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84: It IS About Orwell

The Guardian reports that Haruki Murakami’s gigantic new novel, 1Q84, is rooted in George Orwell’s novel 1984:

Murakami has now admitted that he had “long wanted to write a near-past novel similar to George Orwell’s futuristic novel 1984″ and that this was one of the inspirations for the book. Another was the series of interviews with Aum victims which he conducted following the 1995 gas attacks, and published as Underground.

Underground takes the form of a series of interviews conducted in the wake of the gas attacks on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995. Therein, . . . continue reading, and add your comments