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 […]

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

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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