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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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  • Will: Salman rushdie is a microscopic crapule on the asshole of th
  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
  • Paul: Vanessa Place's 'La Medusa' seems like an American authored
  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b

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 […]

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