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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  • The Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageThe Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    This is the first review I've read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic's... »
  • Bae Suah on SebaldBae Suah on Sebald

    Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I've discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been... »
  • The Old School QCThe Old School QC

    Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary... »
  • Wallace MarginaliaWallace Marginalia

    The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace... »
  • All Hail AugustusAll Hail Augustus

    Daniel Mendelsohn's introduction to the NYRB Classics' reissue of Augustus is now available online as part of the Aug 14 issue... »
  • Anybody?Anybody?

    I don't expect The New York Times to have mastered the minutia of every single topic on earth, but it would be nice if the... »
  • A Million WindowsA Million Windows

    A nice review at Music & Literature of the latest book from Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows. For those of you who have been... »
  • Simon LeysSimon Leys

    Writer Pierre Ryckmans, aka Simon Leys, died earlier this week. So, perhaps the kind memorial messages that are appearing will... »
  • How Benjamin LivedHow Benjamin Lived

    Stuart Jeffries reviews the new biography of Walter Benjamin, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life, in The Guardian. In the... »
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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 […]

Ceres by Mark-Anthony Turnage

Friday Classical Music: Ceres by Mark-Anthony Turnage

This is perhaps the only piece of music inspired by the horrific destruction of humanity by an enormous piece of rock. I saw this performed live last weekend, along with two related pieces he composer wrote later, and so I quote from the program notes for that performance:

I was inspired to write Ceres after reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Ceres was one of the first asteroids to be discovered. I took the idea of asteroids being rocky objects, all of which are capable . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Friday Classical Music: Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, the “Eroica”

Here ya go–the first movement of the symphony that got the Romantic age of music started.

Friday Classical Music: Shostakovich’s 13th String Quartet

Ahh, one of Shostakovich’s late quartets. If you like it, you like it, if you don’t, it goes on for another 18 minutes.

Toward the end of this excerpt you can hear the start of the so-called jazz portion of this quartet. (It lasts about 3 minutes, and it does sound somewhat like jazz.)

Friday Classical Music: Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen died a couple months ago. If you’re not acquainted with the extreme oddity that was this man, then have a look at the above video. He revolutionized compositional music, he thought he was from the star Sirius, and The Beatles liked him so much that they put him on the cover of their album. His music is definitely an acquired taste, but if you’re inclined to the strange . . .

Friday Classical Music: Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians

I’m a little late to this story, but this is the Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble, a group of undergrate musicians, doing a great performance Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, of one of recent classical music’s most difficult pieces. This group’s performance has won wide priase (including ending up on Alex Ross’s year-end list of favorite 2007 recordings).

For a little background read this in the NYT.

Friday Classical Music: Magma by Erik-Sven Tuur

I wanted to put up Magma, the fourth symphony by the Estonian composer Erik-Sven Tuur, but I can’t find a performance in the public domain, so I’ll give you this piece of his. Tuur’s music is a bit different, but give it a chance. He’s one of m favorite composers at the moment.

Friday Classical Music: On Leave

I´m going to have to put Friday Classical Music on leave for a bit. Hope to return it soon.

Classical Music Friday: Ravel's Tzigane

Here’s a link to the audio. (If Windows doesn’t default to Windows Media Player, then be aware that you can play this on Windows Media Player, or whatever else supports mp3s.)

This is a fun piece. It begins with a beautiful violin cadenza that lasts a few minutes. Then the orchestra joins in and things get crazy. At times it seems like Ravel is just trying out idea after idea–they all sound incredible.

As to recordings, I’ve heard that Maxim Vengerov’s is to die for, but I think they stopped producing that disc about a decade ago. Good luck.

Friday Classical Music: Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto

There’s something about strings that just seems to bring out the badass in Shostakovich. Some of my favorite passages from Shostakovich are played on either a cello or violin–they’re complex, emotional, fast, wicked, like riding on a roller coaster. The cadenza to Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto (with which the above clip opens) is a perfect example. It’s simply amazing, raw and beautiful at once.

This clip plays through to the end of the concerto, and the rest is not hard to find on YouTube.

As for recordings, I have to turn to the playing of the awesome . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Classical Music Friday: Manuel de Falla's Homage de Debussy

Well, virtually anyone who knows anoything about classical music has heard of Claude Debussy. Still quite famous, but lesser-known is the Spaniard Manuel de Falla. As this piece shows, stylistically, de Falla and Debussy had some things in common. Both wrote during the period between World Wars I and II, and both wrote what has been called "impressionistic" music. De Falla, being a native of Spain, however, infused his pieces with many kinds of sound that are not to be found in Debussy. Nights in the Gardens of Spain and El Amor Brujo (Love the Magician) are two . . . continue reading, and add your comments