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

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

Shop though these links = Support this site

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.

  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
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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 […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

Popular Amazon Purchases, January – April 2011

As I do every so often on this site, time to run down popular purchases made on Amazon by readers of Conversational Reading. (For previous reader faves, see here.) Here we go, in order to sales rank . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Popular Amazon Purchases, July 2010 – Jan 2011

It’s been a while since I rounded up popular Amazon purchases bought through the links on this site, so let’s do one now. The last one I did was July 1, 2010, so I’ll go from that point up to yesterday. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Most Popular Amazon Purchases, Q1 & Q2 2010

Those who pay very close attention to this site might have noticed that I didn’t do my usual roundup of popular Amazon purchases at the end of the first quarter of 2010. Fact is, I was a little busy at that point and kept putting it off. But here we are, the end of June, so lets mash quarters one and two together and see what readers of this site bought. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Most Popular Amazon Purchases Q4 2009

As I do every three months here, I'm now going to run down popular Amazon purchases made through links on this site. As a reminder to everyone, purchases made through Amazon links on this site kick back a donation to me and help fund both this blog and The Quarterly Conversation.

1. The Story About the Story: Great Writers Explore Great Literature by JC Hallman

The Story About the Story was the most popular seller for last quarter, as well. This is the book that we at The Quarterly Conversation got behind as one of the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Most Popular Amazon Purchases Q3 2009

As I do every three months here, I'm now going to run down popular Amazon purchases made through links on this site. As a reminder to everyone, purchases made through Amazon links on this site kick back a donation to me and help fund both this blog and The Quarterly Conversation.

#1: The Story About the Story, edited by JC Hallman

This is a unique experience in the time that I've been doing this: The Story About the Story is a book that I've really gotten behind, both personally and as editor of The Quarterly . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Most Popular Amazon Purchases Q2 2009

As I do every three months, it's now time to round up the most popular titles purchased from the Amazon links on this site.


The most popular title this cycle ended up being The Loop, a novel that is something like a cross between Proust and Oulipo. It is book 2 in an immense 6-book cycle about memory and time, and it is written by one of the most famous living Oulipoians, Frenchman Jacques Roubaud. Undoubtedly, this book was propelled to number one by these facts alone, although an essay by Dalkey editor Jeremy Davies . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Most Popular Amazon Purchases Q1 2009

As I do here every three months, I'm rounding up the most popular books purchased by the readers of Conversational Reading via this site's Amazon links.

To have a look at the most popular books purchased by readers in all of 2008, see here.

#1 Machine by Peter Adolphse–this is a great example of what a strong blog review can do for a lesser-known book these days. The popularity of Machine on this site can be traced directly to Three Percent's review, which I blogged here. The review blew me away, and judging by purchases . . . continue reading, and add your comments