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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  • Favorite Reads of 2014Favorite Reads of 2014

    Lila by Marilynne Robinson This isn't my favorite Marilynne Robinson book by a long shot, but even not-the-best Marilynne... »
  • Michael Hofmann on Richard FlanaganMichael Hofmann on Richard Flanagan

    The NYRB should really get this guy to review Jonathan Franzen's Purity. The Narrow Road to the Deep North has the scope... »
  • Coetzee’s Short StoriesCoetzee’s Short Stories

    Just published by Text Publishing. J.M. Coetzee swims strongly against the ebbing tide. Not only has Text Publishing... »
  • The first PerecThe first Perec

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    I'm surprised to learn Andres Newman is so young. Also, great overview of his books in English. Andrés Neuman is... »
  • The Future ModianoThe Future Modiano

    The Complete Review has the details of the future Englishing of our most recent Nobel laureate. And also, sales figures. For... »
  • Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38

    Issue 38 right here. or TOC after the jump. Features Readings, Fragments,... »
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    Rivka Galchen on the new Kafka bio by Reiner Stach. I have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks about Kafka for... »
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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
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • 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 […]

Favorite Reads of 2010: Wonder by Hugo Claus

All my favorite reads of 2010 collected here.

Quoting myself, Wonder book is a little more difficult to write up in short form than some of the other titles I’ve discussed lately because there isn’t really a dazzling conceit to the book. It’s simply about a man driven insane by the Nazi legacy in Belgium. (And it’s interesting to note that this is the second straight year the BTB longlist features a European title that deals centrally with collaborationist war guilt; last year was The Darkroom of Damocles, a fine book in its own . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: About a Mountain by John D'Agata

My reading divides into 3 kinds of books: 1) the books I just don’t care for; 2) the books that are pleasing but ultimately forgettable; and 3) the books that force me to reckon with them. Of the three kinds, the third is indisputably the best. Even when the ultimate reckoning does not come out in their favor, these are books that have seduced me to live in their world, and I will not forget them easily. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: Prose by Thomas Bernhard

If you come to my house and look at my bookshelves, you can very quickly and easily distinguish the gods from the demigods and lesser beings. The gods simply take up more space, and they do so in the shape of rows of books with their names on them. Thomas Bernhard is a god, and right now he has a 7-book tract of shelf that will surely grow very, very soon. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: Mimesis by Erich Auerbach

Mimesis is one of those titles that everybody talks about so much that you begin to get the idea that to not have read it is some horrible mark against you, like having a third eyeball, or, even worse, a copy of Shift: A Novel (Gate of Orpheus Trilogy) in your hand. But then you actually look at this brick of literary criticism, and you begin to think that it’s one of those books that people more often claim to have read than actually read. But no. While I’m not going to go so far as Borges did . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 by Franco Moretti

If you pick up Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 and flip through it, it’ll look like something you might see in The Believer. Your eye will be drawn to all these interesting diagrams with suggestive titles like “Colonial wealth in British sentimental novels.” First you’ll ponder those, and then when you sit down to actually read this book, you will find that it is literary criticism, albeit literary criticism of the best kind possible–genuinely innovative and genuinely readable. (And in fact, Moretti has something rare in an academic critic–a fresh, engaging prose style.) So what is this book? Well, let me tell you. Franco Moretti is an unabashed lover of the 19th-century novel (he says he favorite book of al is Old Goriot by Balzac). That’s great for a lot of reasons, but . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: All Souls by Javier Marias

You could actually put just about all of Marias’ books in this spot. (I’ve read 5 of them this year, counting Your Face Tomorrow as one novel and counting Manana en la batalla piensa en mi, which I’m 2/3 through and must be the longest Spanish-language book I’ve ever read.) I’ve come to love the work of Javier Marias this year, but if I were to ding him for something it’d have to be that his style can be a little loose at times. Part of this is, I think, just a matter of differences of opinion–Marias likes that maximalist kind of prose where he lets his words stream on for pages and pages, and I prefer novels that pare back to a nice arid essentiality. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: Correction by Thomas Bernhard

Thomas Bernhard does a strange kind of realism. His books tend to be extremely intense character studies of 2 – 3 people, yet they are told entirely through the obsessive monologue of a single character, so everything about all of the characters studied in his books is flattened into a single narrative voice. (And, in fact, all of Bernhard’s books sound similar, so really everything is flattened even further into Bernhard’s prose style.) . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, edited by Reza Aslan

When was the last time you read an anthology cover to cover? What about a 700-page one? For me the last–and the first–was Tablet & Pen. I read this anthology cover to cover, and in fact I did most of that reading in 8-hour bouts of extreme concentration while on a transatlantic flight. Any book that can induce that kind of concentration in that kind of circumstance is doing something incredibly right. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: The Culture Industry by Theodor Adorno

This is essentially Adorno’s book-length definition and dissection of the culture industry—how capitalistic society creates and sells popular entertainment and lifestyles to pretty much every single person within its purview. That is the culture industry and that is what it does, and make no mistake, it is out to colonize every last second of your “free time” (and speaking of, Adorno’s essay on “free time” in this book is wonderful). . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2010: The Literary Conference by Cesar Aira

aira-literary-conference

If I could be King for one year, what I’d do is call together 10 or 15 of the best Spanish-language translators I could find, and I’d set ‘em loose on Cesar Aira. Between the translators’ skills, Aira’s naturally beautiful writing, and the fact that his novels tend to be very short, with any luck we’d get through a good quarter of the 80+ Aira titles that remain to be translated into English. . . . continue reading, and add your comments