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.


  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat

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The Blind Owl might be described as a cross between Kafka and Poe—there’s a definite creepy/Gothicness, but there’s also the sense of the void at the center of the modern world. It’s just a short book, but it has many outstanding features, and author Sadegh Hedayat is excellent at working his various motifs together like a musical composition. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Notebooks of Malte Laudris Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke

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I think out of everything I read in 2011, The Notebooks of Malte Laudris Brigge would have to be my single most favorite thing. I could tell that I was in for an exceptional experience when certain trusted reader friends of mine, seeing that I had picked up the book at San Francisco Public’s annual huge book sale, spoke of the book in the kind of reverential tones that are only elicited by books of the highest quality. The book is composed of what I suppose you would call “entries” in Brigge’s notebooks, but there’s really very little . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Melancholy of Resistance by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

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Laszlo Krasznahorkai is one of the few authors I can seriously regard as today carrying on the work of the great modernists. The Melancholy of Resistance is a very hard book to pin down, but if anything it is about the energy, terror, seduction, and appeal of fascism. The book is about a Leviathan-like whale that comes to a town in Hungary, and how the spectacle of it exerts power over the masses and is used by the powers that be. Krasznahorkai’s long sentences are frequently remarked on, and they are great, but this book also includes a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: Suicide by Edouard Leve

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To introduce Suicide, here’s what I wrote at the top of my interview with the book’s translator:

Without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve read this year is a small book called Suicide. It was written by the contemporary French writer Edouard Levé, who, ten days after delivering the manuscript, in fact did commit suicide, but the book is not so much a suicide note or explanation as it is an exactingly wrought object.

It was only on a second reading that I was able to truly appreciate how precise the prose is, and how . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Blood Oranges by John Hawkes

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How to explain the relative neglect of John Hawkes, beloved by both Leslie Fiedler and William H. Gass? His prose style is simply unmistakable, his grasp of structure constantly surprises you. I’ll quote Gass, who introduced me to Hawkes:

This is the effect of Hawkes’s fiction: It sees the world from just inside its surface, a surface at which it looks back the way Orpheus so dangerously did, thereby returning an unlamenting Eurydice to Hades. It is as if a wall were examining, from its steadfastly upright state, the slow peel of its paint. The position is unprecedented. And . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: Never Any End to Paris by Enrique Vila-Matas

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I’m thrilled that New Directions seems to be investing in Enrique Vila-Matas. After bringing out a couple of his novels in 2007, this year they published the excellent Never Any End to Paris, and next year will see the publication of his Dubliesque, his most recent novel in Spanish. (One hopes after this they’ll start digging further into his rich backlist.)

Anyway, I’m going to outsource this recommendation to myself, since I already spent quite a bit of time this year writing about what a great book this is. First, from my review of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Sleepwalker by Margarita Karapanou

sleepwalker

Earlier this year I exhorted everyone to read Margarita Karapanou. And now I’m doing it again. The Sleepwalker is an amazing little book, certainly one of the leanest, most interesting pieces of writing you will have the pleasure of reading. (And huge praise to translator Karen Emmerich for the work she did with this author’s Greek.)

Let me offer two quotes to describe this book to you. First, from the Greek author Amanda Michalopoulou:

I was 19 years old, a student of French literature, when I read The Sleepwalker. I realized then that books can trap . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Man of Feeling by Javier Marias

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When I was working on my half of Lady Chatterley’s Brother earlier this year, I read a whole lot of Javier Marias. And while I could easily recommend to you A Heart So White or Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me, I’m going to put in for The Man of Feeling, because I get the idea that it’s often neglected vis a vis Marias’ later works. This is the first book of what I’ve come to call Marias’ “mature phase” as a writer, and though it’s much smaller than the books that would come later . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: The Master Switch by Tim Wu

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The premise that The Master Switch is dedicated to demonstrating is that the Internet is not such an unprecedented democratization of expression as we customarily believe: in fact, the TV, radio, and film media were all at one time considered to offer similar potential as the Internet now does, and each was subsequently straitjacketed by a consortia of powerful media players. In The Master Switch, Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu makes the case that each of these media have more or less conformed to a cycle of initial promise and openness to closure and consolidation, which the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2011: My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec

I already mentioned this one in a “favorite reads” post I did for The Millions. My Two Worlds is truly large, and deep, and expansive, even though it’s just over 100 pages long. It felt so new and unpinnable that I had a hard time writing about it, even though I also felt that the book had much in it that could be written about. In my opinion, that’s a sign of something potent.

I eventually did write about it, right here.

My Two Worlds is a dance, a seduction that draws us right up to . . . continue reading, and add your comments