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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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  • Mike: I agree with much of this discussion, though I'm not sure wh
  • S: This outpouring has been pretty wide-spread indeed. To be ho
  • 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 […]

Breaking Down the Wall Between Readers and Writers

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

One of the nice things about the IFOA is the amount of interaction possible between readers and writers–and writers and other writers, and publishers and writers–during the festival. In a lot of literary events there’s a very prescribed sort of interaction . . . the writer’s generally up on a podium speaking to the audience from a distance, and if there’s any interaction it occurs during the brief Q & A at the end of the event. I’m not sure this is the best way to present . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Extent of Canadian Lit

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

It’s safe to say that this week I’ve learned more about Canadian literature than I have in the 52 weeks preceding this one. It’s very eye-opening to see exactly how much literature is going on here, and how little of it ever makes its way to the United States.

I’m flying today, so not a lot of time to run down some of the authors and publishers I’ve met and discovered up here, but I certainly will be writing more about this in the days and weeks . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Continuing the Major Book Festival Question

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

To continue the point I made in this post, one of the things that separates what’s being done at Harbourfront Centre (the organization that puts on the IFOA) from similar literary festivals in the U.S. is that their program is year-round, and it’s a fairly well-developed framework–and it’s non-profit. Yes, there is a strong culture of literary events in certain U.S. cities, but it’s generally tied to bookstores or other for-profit enterprises, and we saw what could happen wen Cody’s Books in Berkeley closed rather . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Tash Aw: After the Epilogue: What starts when the writing is finished

(This week I'm covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. This event is After the Epilogue: What starts when the writing is finished, with Tash Aw, Andrea De Carlo, Giles Foden and Sarah Waters.)

It was interesting to see that this panel moved fairly quickly from questions of craft (How do you know a novel is done?) to questions of sales and marketing (How do you sell your novel once you have it?). The event reached a weird sort of antithesis of itself when the authors somehow collectively reached the conclusion that that readings and public . . . continue reading, and add your comments

On Subsidizing Literature, and Whether It Works

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

One thing I’m picking up this week is that the Canadians really go out of their way to subsidize and promote national literature, to (in my opinion) a much greater extent than is done in the U.S. First and foremost, they have three tiers of public funding for authors–nationally, at the province level, and at the city level–and the money can be good enough to cobble a reasonable living from, between government money and book sales/touring.

This point was somewhat addressed at the Colm Toibin panel . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Nicholson Baker: On Hearing Voices and Seeing Places You’ve Never Been

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. This event is On Hearing Voices and Seeing Places You’ve Never Been, featuring Nicholson Baker, Iain Pears, Adam Thorpe, David Wroblewski, and host Charles Foran .)

At this event, the very first thing I noted was that it was not nearly full. I’m sure in many U.S. cities it would not be hard at all to get a capacity crowd for Nicholson Baker, but not here. This was a fairly well-attended event, but certainly not what one would think of for a name like Baker. (This . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Where’s the Major Book Festival in the United States?

(This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

After seeing how the Harbourfront Centre and the Canadian government (and in addition, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Australia) have been working together to promote national authors and reading this week, I’ve got to wonder where our national festival is. I know we’ve got the New Yorker Festival and the LA Times Book Festival of Books, but I don’t consider those the same, since they’re being run as a for profit venture by private firms. That’s fine, but I’m thinking that a festival that had the kind . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Governor General’s Literary Award Finalists

(This week I'm covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. This event is the Governor General's Literary Award Finalists ceremony.

The GGs, as the Governor General's Award is known round here, are really big news in Canada. This is about as big as prizes get, sort of like if you could combine the prestige of the American National Book Award and the Pulitzer. The list of winners reads pretty much like a history of Canadian literature, including Alica Munroe (3 times), Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, and about 60 others. Interestingly (for people like me) . . . continue reading, and add your comments

My First Purchase: King Leary by Paul Quarrington

(This week I'm covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.)

Earlier this week I blogged about how dumbfounded I was to find a massive crowd of people come out to celebrate an author I'd never heard of at all. That author was Paul Quarrington, and after browsing the numerous books of his available for sale at this year's IFOA I decided that King Leary would be my first purchase. (This purchase was motivated in large part by the fact that, apparently, Leary is not available in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Interview: Paul Theroux by Eleanor Wachtel

(This week I'm covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. This event is "Interview: Paul Theroux by Eleanor Wachtel.")

Paul Theroux has long been one of those authors I feel like I should get around to but never quite have: I own a couple of his better-known books and have long harbored unfulfilled intentions to read them. After this event, I think I will.

Theroux and his interviewer, Eleanor Wachtel, started off their conversation with Tthe ostensible reason Theroux was at the IFOA–the publication of his new book, A Dead Hand: A . . . continue reading, and add your comments