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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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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 […]

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News

* Google’s getting into the online encyclopedia biz

* The Hartford Courant is the most recent newspaper to deem book coverage unimportant

* Roberto Bolano is in The New Yorker. Also see Conversational Reading’s coverage of Bolano, and and all of our reviews and essays about him at The Quarterly Conversation.

Reviews

* The Complete Review on Reading the OED (yes, that’s what you think it is):

A book about someone spending a year reading the over twenty-thousand pages of a dictionary does not sound particularly . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

This ironic image found at No Caption Needed, which in this case lives up to its name

News

* For the sci-fi inclined, get in on Tor’s free ebook orgy while it still exists

* Does the Internet makes the new generation worse writers? A recent study finds changes in the kind of mistakes students make, but doesn’t attribute the changes to the digital environment:

One thing that Lunsford and Lunsford conclude is that when student writing from the mid-80s is compared to student writing today, “new error patterns” emerge. Of course, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

The University of Chicago publishes a new book of rarely seen Dorothea Lane photos. Press release, excerpt.

News

* Quarterly Conversation contributor Lee Rourke on the decline of the British avant-garde

* Paul Verhaughen, whom you’ll all remember as the author of the Pynchonesque work-in-translation Omega Minor, has a blog. I find it amazing that a guy capable of writing this on his blog didn’t get better publicity in the States:

I shoot an email back asking if I can have the money (4,950 euros, or about $7,500) donated . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

Yes, you know Falling Man. But what about Falling Girl?

News

* In writing about the battle to keep Fernando Pessoa’s correspondence in Portugal, the NYT does a pretty good job of discussing the writer and his major works

* Borders becomes the latest online bookseller to offer downloadable audio books. Unfortunately, they force you to download through a clunky "media console" that’s Windows-only. And we wonder why Borders is going out of business.

* Max has some great news for Alvaro Mutis fans. If you’re not familiar . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

I can’t tell if this is one of the most useless books ever created or one of the funniest jokes I’ve seen in a while.

News

* One day the gods will reveal what we, the American reading public, have done to make them to inflict geniuses like this on our book sections

* What are the essential essays of textual criticism after 1985?

* Chad Post discusses the somewhat prohibitively expensive pricing of books in Argentina. Compared to other parts of Latin America, I don’t think the Argentine book buyer . . . continue reading, and add your comments

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The Economist pays homage to an artist who pretty much made a career our of painting unadorned home interiors

News

* A treasure trove of previously unknown Kafka writings has been discovered

* A linguist explains why texting is good for writing and spelling

* Bertelsmann, which owns some trifling American press (the name escapes me), has given up trying to sell books in China

* Don’t you just love it when Michael Orthofer gets on his hobby horse? He’s chosen to vent his fury on an incredibly botched . . . continue reading, and add your comments

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The NY Times profiles library-ladder makers Putnam Rolling Ladder Company

News

* Not exactly news, but could someone with greater influence than I possess help The Guardian understand that they’re not obliged to cover every single Harry Potter-related story that comes down the pike?

* The Millions discusses anticipated books left to publish in 2008. And if you want more hot forthcoming books action, you can check the catalogs I run down regularly on Fridays and my two BEA roundups

* FC2 is getting dropped from the University . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

How nonprofits will meet in the 21st century? From the flickr photostream Nonprofits in Second Life.

News

* More cutbacks in the Chicago Tribune and LAT book sections are likely

* NPR, by contrast, is upping its coverage

* Chad Post lets the cat out of the bag that NYRB will be publishing the 1600-page book on Borges by Morel-author and best friend Adolfo Bioy Casares (albeit, somewhat abridged)

* This just sounds odd: "The city of Frankfurt’s prestigious art museum, the Schirn, cancelled Friday its plans for a literary . . . continue reading, and add your comments

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From the piece "Composition for Robert Walser," published at Words Without Borders

News

* Cody’s Books is now really, truly, and, one must accept, irrevocably, dead

* A new documentary exploring the life and death of Cody’s Books and Kepler’s bookstore will air on PBS in November

* Marcelo reports on Bolano’s literary executor, who possibly lost his job for writing a negative review. Marcelo also reproduces this quote from him, with which I need not state my agreement:

The way things are … the critic tends to act exactly like . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LINKS

The Smithsonian now has a flickr photostream.

News

* Matt Cheney releases the TOC for Best American Fantasy 28

* Blackwells in the UK is testing out the so-called book ATM in one of its stores. At 40 pages per minute, you could POD a copy of Vollmann in under half an hour.

* The Wall Street Journal shows how Amazon shows its clout, turning a summer book into a bestseller:

Driving that unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong reviews and promotional support from Amazon.com. The Web retailer chose the . . . continue reading, and add your comments