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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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You Say

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  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
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  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b
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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 Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

Recently Released: The Man in the Wooden Hat

Received a copy of The Man in the Wooden Hat a while back, and not it’s been published in the U.S. Looks fairly interesting, though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to it. But the review coverage is generally favorable.

The Guardian:

What Gardam is particularly good at – and what made Old Filth so compelling – is creating for her characters façades of complete conventionality, which are then chipped away to reveal strange internal workings.

Jonathan Yardley:

Probably it will astonish American readers to learn . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recently Received: Don Juan by Peter Handke and Translation Is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin

Peter Handke is an author I’ve long meant to read. His novel Don Juan: His Own Version is forthcoming from FSG in February and recently arrived at my doorstep. I also managed to snag a copy of his novel Across at the SF Public Library’s gigantic used book sale, which (the book) I’ve been told is one of his best.

As to Don Juan, the Complete Review has reviewed it:

Don Juan neatly plays with that inherent contradiction of fiction: its absolutism — a complete and exclusive world rendered in mere . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Salt Smugglers by Gérard de Nerval

We'll be publishing a review of The Salt Smugglers by 19th-century Frenchman Gérard de Nerval in the winter issue of The Quarterly Conversation. The book looks extremely interesting, and I'm planning on reading it as soon as I've taken care of a couple others. It was originally written as a series of feuilleton, and Archipelago has published this book in two-column, newspaper format.

Nerval was an immensely interesting writer, winning adherents such as Proust, Breton, and Umberto Eco (the latter of which called his novel Sylvie a masterpiece). I've seen . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

I don't usually cover this kind of book here, but Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne seems like it would have some appeal for the audience of this site, as Byrne is generally more interesting than the average author of this kind of book.

Here's a description of the book from Byrne's website:

Bicycle Diaries chronicles David’s observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world’s major cities. In places . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Subversive Scribe by Suzanne Jill Levine

In my opinion, Suzanne Jill Levine must be a goddess of translation. I base this mainly on the fact that she's responsible for the Engligh-language editions of some of my favorite Latin American authors: Manuel Puig, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

She's also written a good deal about translation, and now Dalkey is re-issuing one Levine's books on translation, The Subversive Scribe. Basically, it's a series of essays built around some of Levine's greatest translations (e.g., Three Trapped Tigers, Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), where she discusses specific choices she made and gives close readings . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri

I’m looking forward to reading The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri, just published here by Knopf and released earlier this year in Britain. It seems to be a dual family saga novel set in the 1970s and ’80s, and it got a ton of great press in the UK.

Here’s an excerpt from the book at Knopf’s website.

I’ve found some press Stateside (surely there will be more). First is this interview with the Boston Globe:

Q. This novel has been compared to Thomas Mann’s “Buddenbrooks.’’ . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: New Stories From The South, Edited By Madison Smartt Bell

Interesting anthology form Algonquin out next Tuesday: New Stories from the South 2009, edited by Madison Smartt Bell.

From the publisher’s website:

In the twenty-fourth volume of this distinguished anthology, Madison Smartt Bell chooses twenty-one distinctive pieces of short fiction to tell the story of the South as it is now. This is a South that is still recognizable but no longer predictable. As he says, “to the traditional black and white recipe (ever a tricky and volatile mixture) have been added new shades and strains from Asia and Central and South . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Antho of New Russian Fiction

A few weeks ago I discussed The Wall in My Head and Best European Fiction 2010. Now, yet another anthology of literature-in-translation: Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia. (Is it just me, or are there way more of these things on the market lately?).

The list of contributors on this antho looks very impressive–a lot of young writers that seem to be on the leading edge of Russian lit–as does the translators Tin House has pulled in here. I'm hoping to read this one soon and register some thoughts.

And . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: Driftless by David Rhodes

Driftless is publishing next week in paperback. It is the first book in 30 years from American author David Rhodes. From the publisher’s website:

When David Rhodes’ first three novels were published in the mid-seventies, he was acclaimed as “one of the best eyes in recent fiction” (John Gardner), and compared favorably to Sherwood Anderson. In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, and unpublished for the subsequent three decades.

With Driftless, Rhodes returns to the midwestern landscape he knows so well, offering a fascinating and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recently Published: Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin was published on July 1 from City Lights books.

I mentioned the author and book last week here.

An excerpt from the book can be read here in the NYT.

Everything seemed to be going well in the two aquariums that still had life in them until one day fungus appeared on some angelfish that had survived from the early, better days. At first there were only some small clouds growing on their backs. Fish look strange in such conditions. Their color becomes blurred by a . . . continue reading, and add your comments