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

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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

How to Turn a Kindle Into a Brick

A poster named "Ian" in a forum on the website MobileRead (a website for people who read books on mobile devices) has made the following claims about Amazon's Kindle in a posting entitled "Amazon has banned my account – my Kindle is now a (partial) brick":

I have been a loyal Amazon.com customer for many years, but today, I received an email stating that I have been banned from the site and my account has been closed, because I apparently have an extraordinary rate of requesting refunds due to a variety of factors. . . .

. . . continue reading, and add your comments

Electronic Review Copies

Chad echoes a point I've made before: e-readers like the Amazon Kindle don't necessarily make sense for those of us who don't need access to 500 books at any given moment, but they do have specialized applications. For instance, letting bookstore employees read ARCs:

Jessica’s main focus in her post is on replacing traditional print advanced reading copies with e-version—something that makes a lot of logistical sense to me. The unit cost for printing galleys is more than the unit cost for the finished book, and (for small presses at least) . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Amazon Boycott of Ebooks Over $10

As I've been reading Ted Striphas's The Late Age of Print, I've been seeing books and ebooks in very new ways. That is, I'm beginning to see the interconnectedness of copyright, production, distribution, and fair use/reuse swirling around books and reading. I'm also starting to see how greatly all of these are being impacted by developing technologies.

So this note about an informal "boycott" of ebooks over $10 on Amazon strikes me as very interesting.

Kindle books are kinda like movie tickets. While you can re-read the book, you cannot: donate it to a library, sell it to . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Can Electronic Media Ever Really Replace Books?

As digital music has taken on a larger and larger role in my life, I've realized just how much I dislike CDs. In fact, I'm at the point now where I'll pretty much just spin a CD one time: when I rip it to my computer.

This raises a good question: Why do I even need CDs? I never use them to actually listen to music, they're ugly, they clutter my apartment, they usually cost more than downloading the same music from iTunes. In fact, now that all my music is digitzed, I'm tempted to ditch all of my . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Why EBooks Will Change How the Industry Functions

Evan Schnittman makes some valid points about how ebooks will change publishing, although I can't agree with his title, Why Ebooks Must Fail. More on that in a second, but first, what I see as the most important aspects of his post:

And therein lies the dilemma… how does the publishing industry fund the creation, editing, design, production, marketing, e-warehousing, and sales of ebooks, if the income isn’t there? How do ebooks cover the huge advances needed to buy books if we cannot generate the cash, especially at their extremely low, discounted prices, cover the advances that an . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Interview: Fran Toolan of NetGalley

Advance review copies seem to be one aspect of the book business that has a lot to gain from the increasing digitization of publishing. After all, ARCs are meant to be disposable (all those "not for resale" warnings), and every publicist I've ever talked to has had the experience of shipping them out by the hundreds with little actual result.

So, when I discovered a new service that wants to make electronic galleys available to reviewers, journalists, librarians, and other people, I wanted to know more. To find out, I conducted this interview with Fran Toolan of NetGalley.

(for . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Authors Guild: Seriously, We Want a Piece of Kindle 2

A couple weeks back I reported that Authors Guild was looking into legal action over Kindle 2's "read aloud" feature. Apparently this was not some off the cuff remark.

In no less a forum than The New York Times, author Roy Blount, Jr acts as spokesman for AG against K2:

True, you can already get software that will read aloud whatever is on your computer. But Kindle 2 is being sold specifically as a new, improved, multimedia version of books — every title is . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Harper Studio on ebooks

Harper Studio is supposed to be a "new" kind of publisher. Forget those fat advances and celebrity memoirs . . . Harper Studio is all about trimming the fat and good publishing.

I'm not so sure. Since I've been reading the HS blog, I've already noted some questionable assertions about ebook pricing. Now HS makes this groundbreaking discovery:

He told me he thinks we’re having the wrong conversation.  It’s not about how fast we can get to zero — it’s about how the content should be built……and then he said something that really inspired me:  The first . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Problem with the Kindle

This is the biggest problem with the Kindle:

Amazon must address the needs of very real readers who read only a few books and magazines at a time, who like to download classic non-copyrighted lit and work-related documents for free, and who like to leaf through pages randomly. This last thing is important, though it may be insurmountable: Airport-friendly page turners don’t really require non-linear random-access reading, but everything smart from Harry Potter to Infinite Jest does, and that’s one concern that the Kindle, or any ebook reader, still does not address well.

Sure, there are people . . . continue reading, and add your comments

eBook Prices: Can They Fall Further?

Continuing the ebook pricing conversation, Rich Mintz (from Obama’s online campaign) has this to say:

As a heavy consumer of books (and a former independent bookstore owner), I’m not particularly interested in what publishing executives tell me books should cost — what matters to me is what the market tells me they actually do cost.

If the market as a whole can produce and distribute printed books profitably for $27.99, it seems to follow that it can produce and distribute e-books (which are logistically much simpler) profitably for $9.99. Empirically, the market is doing so . . . continue reading, and add your comments