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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

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