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.


  • 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 […]

Whither Soft Skull?

Where's Soft Skull headed now that Denise Oswald has taken over for Richard Nash? Over at The Quarterly Conversation I talk to her about the press's future, which, Oswald says, will definitely include translations.

Utah and Louisiana Start Down the Slippery Slope to Censorship

Congratulations to the citizens of Utah and Louisiana. You are one step closer to having the power to decide which books are appropriate for minors and which books are not:

There is a disturbing new trend in censorship legislation. Bills have been introduced in Utah and Louisiana this year that give private citizens the right to sue booksellers and other retailers for committing an “unfair” trade practice by selling “offensive” material to a minor. The defendants in these lawsuits would have to hire a lawyer to defend them and could be forced to pay thousands of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Why Amazon Should Be Taxed in All 50 States

Over the weekend I noted the immeasurably sad news that Black Oak Books has become the latest Berkeley institution to be killed by Bush's economy.

To be fair, in this case our ongoing economic nightmare was given a big assist by Amazon. As I've discussed ad nauseum on this blog, Amazon's incredibly efficient business model makes it hard for other bookstores to compete on things like price and availability.

To the extent that Amazon competes fair and square, however, this is a sad but ultimately completely appropriate part of our economic system. That said, there is at . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Barnes & Noble Recommends: It Works

Barnes and Noble CEO Steve Riggio claims that B&N Recommends is a major factor in sale of books selected for the program:

He also had some interesting comments about the Barnes & Noble Recommends program saying that selected titles "often garner 30, 40% as much as 50% market share in initial weeks on sale," meaning that B&N is responsible for a large chunk of the overall sales of those titles, and furthermore B&N finds "that those books go onto the bestseller lists of other national, local and regional booksellers."

Google Gives Libraries Price Oversight

NYT:

In a move that could blunt some of the criticism of Google for its settlement of a lawsuit over its book-scanning project, the company signed an agreement with the University of Michigan that would give some libraries a degree of oversight over the prices Google could charge for its vast digital library. . . .

Under Google’s plan for the collection, public libraries will get free access to the full texts for their patrons at one computer, and universities will be able to buy subscriptions to make the service generally available, with rates based on their . . . continue reading, and add your comments

A Crime Novelist Experiments With The Kindle

Bryan Gilmer generated some instant publicity for his novel Felonious Jazz by radically discounting the Kindle edition:

My Kindle edition went live last Monday at $7.99, so I announced it on a couple of Kindle message boards online. By Wednesday, I'd sold one copy. One! Message board replies said, "If you want us to try a new author, give us a really low price. It'll generate sales and reviews." So I marked it down to $1.99 Thursday morning and posted the price change on the same boards. What happened next was remarkable:

As of 5 p.m. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Amazon Is Losing Money on Each $9.99 Ebook

Publishers Weekly confirms something I've long suspected:

Currently, publishers make as much money on Kindle editions as print editions, since Amazon, the largest e-book retailer, pays the same discount for e-book editions as it does for print—off the same list price, whether bound book or e-book. (An Amazon spokesperson would not comment on the discount issue, but a number of publishers confirmed that Amazon pays the standard discount—which is, with some fluctuation among houses, about 50% off list price—for Kindle editions.)

Amazon, which sets the price for everything it sells, is, as many people . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Too Bad the Recession Is Worldwide

The Mail & Guardian reports that U.S. and U.K. publishers bowing beneath recession at home are using the great popularity of English-language books worldwide to sell in other markets:

The US market was worth about$24.3-billion in 2008 while sales in Britain were about £3-billion. Last year, book sales by volume in the US dropped 6% on 2007, although in value terms the drop was 2.5%. In Britain the volume of books was down 4% and value down 6%.

In contrast, overseas English language markets are booming. India is the world's third largest English language . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Flat Is the New Up

PW reports on BISG’s Making Information Pay conference. Interesting stuff:

The publishing industry, along with the rest of the economy, is being dramatically transformed by the recession, speakers at BISG’s Making Information Pay conference agreed. Trends that were already occurring–moving from a mass market marketplace to a long tail market and going from an industrial-based economy to knowledge-based are accelerating because of the recession, said Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at Outsell. While “flat is the new up,” has become a cliché, it is today’s headline, Healy said.

And later on:

Top threats include free content . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Newspapers Making a Kindle-Killer?

It's no secret that newspapes have hastened their own downfall with poor decisions and some ridiculous, even illegal ideas (like massive price collusion).

But, they might now be getting into the act. The Wall Street Journal reports that they're exploring a Kindle knock-off designed to read newspapers and magazines:

Hearst Corp., which publishes the San Francisco Chronicle and Houston Chronicle as well as magazines including Cosmopolitan, is backing a venture with FirstPaper LLC to create a software platform that will support digital downloads of newspapers and magazines. The startup venture . . . continue reading, and add your comments