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.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    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 […]

Alex Ross's New Book

I really loved The Rest Is Noise by New Yorker classical music critic Alex Ross, so I’m thrilled to hear FSG will be publishing his next book in September, called Listen to This.

A little surprising, though to see that the book is going from manuscript to print in a little under 9 months:

I have a habit of finishing books in hotels. I sent off The Rest Is Noise from the Omni in downtown Los Angeles; Listen To This, which Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish at the end of September, was dispatched last week from . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Vast Majority of Composers Don’t Earn a Living off Work

Alex Ross points to the results of a recent survey of American composers. One bit in particular caught my attention:

They have a median total income of $45,000, and, on average, they derive 19% of that amount from composition. Yet they spend twenty-seven hours a week on composing-related activities. Eighty-five respondents — 6.4% of the total — make a living entirely from writing music.

Obviously classical music composers and authors isn’t an apples to apples comparison, but I do think it’s instructive that only 6.4% of them earn a living off their work. As with classical music, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Can You Read with Music?

At The Guardian, Sam Jordison says no to reading with music, of any kind:

As for novels, forget it. Even music that doesn’t ask too much – or can at least be enjoyed in the background – can cause problems. Brian Eno’s haunting Music For Airports has ruined PG Wodehouse for me in the past. Almost as much as the noise it was supposed to neuter: a woman (old, I might add) yelling down her mobile about the weather. The happy tinkling of Chopin has rendered absurd grisly scenes in Cain’s Book and tragedy in A Farewell To . . . continue reading, and add your comments

All of Stravinsky at Your Fingertips

Alex Ross notes that you can purchase a boxed set of almost everything Strvinsky ever wrote (that’s 22 CDs of music) for £17.99. Though this deal isn’t available in the States, Ross says his boxed set took only 8 days to transit the Atlantic.

That is one incredible price (and it becomes more and more incredible as the pound continues to take a beating), but I will say that Strvinsky is the set’s conductor, and I have heard that he isn’t the best interpretor of his works.

Gubaidulina at the SFS

Alex Ross has links to some reports on how symphonies around the U.S. are weathering this recession so far. Some are remaining prosperous, but others are seeing declines in attendance and donations.

If you’re not planning to already, you should really resolve to see at least one symphonic performance in 2009. Not just as a way to help the arts in your community, but simply because the symphony is an amazing experience.

The first symphony performance I’ll be attending in this new year will come in late February when Anne-Sophie Mutter comes to town for the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Classical Year in Review

Alex Ross offers his favorite classical recordings from 2008. Lots of good stuff here, including:

“Hommage à Messiaen”; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano (Deutsche Grammophon).

John Adams, “Doctor Atomic”; Gerald Finley, baritone, with Lawrence Renes conducting the Netherlands Opera (Opus Arte DVD).

The Rest Is Noise “Glossary”

One of the things I most liked about Alex Ross’s survey of 20th century classical were his readings of the music. In many cases, he was able to give a sense of how the music worked and deliver a reading of a piece (in a note-by-note, quasi-literary sense) that could even be understood by those on whom terms such as "triad" and "first inversion" are lost. (I’m a good test case, since I’m exactly that person.)

To coincide with the paperback release of The Rest Is Noise, Ross has made it possible for any of us to quickly grasp . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Doctor Atomic DVD

Just to follow up from earlier this week, there actually is a DVD version of Doctor Atomic available, of a performance that I’m told largely duplicates the cast of the world premiere.