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.

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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 Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

The Quotable Kafka

My edition of Kafka’s complete short stories tells me that the short story "The Great Wall of China" "though apparently a fragment, is so perfect in itself that it may be read as a finished work." Indeed. Borges would have been proud to have written it.

Reading the stories, I’ve come to find out that quite a number of them are considered fragments. In a couple it’s obvious, but in many it’s really not. Kafka’s fragments are better than a lot of people’s finished efforts. I’ve also discovered that quite a number of his stories were published in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Quotable Viktor Shklovsky

From Literature and Cinematography, originally written in 1923:

The poetics of the motion picture is a poetics of pure plot.

Blessed are the lowly ones in the history of art, for theirs is the kingdom of the future.

To my horror, I have discovered abroad that in America the film industry is the third-largest industry, exceeded only by metallurgy and textiles.

An image is like a parallelism with its first part suppressed. . . . A riddle is a parallelism with the first part of the parallel omitted and with the possibility of several substitutions.

The film script . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Problem with Quoting Peter Nadas

I’m not sure if A Book of Memories is representative of Peter Nadas’s work, but if it is then this author is difficult to quote concisely. This isn’t just a matter of most of his sentences being paragraph-length (and most of them are, and the paragraphs tend to be page-length), this is also a matter of the very distributed way in which his sentences convey meaning. Nadas’s writing (again, judging only by A Book of Memories) eludes concision because of the way his sentences loop back and back in upon themselves, probe each nuance as it comes up, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Following Story

A teacher of Dutch–well, if you wanted to draw a cartoon of the type, you could take him as your model. Teaching children the language they were already hearing in the echo chamber of the womb long before they were born, and stunting the natural growth of that language with tedious drivel about ordinal numbers, double possessives, split infinitives, predicate nouns, and prepositional phrases is bad enough, but to look like an underdone cutlet and pontificate about poetry, that’s too much. And not only did he lay down the law about poetry, he wrote it too. Every few years . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Galatea 2.2

I read then, everything I could lay hands on. Reading was my virgin continent. I read instantly upon awakening, and was still at it well past the hour that consciousness shut down. I read for nothing, for a pleasure difficult to describe and impossible afterwards to recover.

The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick

The Shekina fund-raiser was held in one of those mazy Upper West Side apartments where it is impossible to find the bathroom. You wander from corridor to corridor, tentatively entering bedrooms still redolent of their night odors, where the bedspreads have lain folded and unused on chairs for months. Sometimes on these journeys there will be a bewildered young child standing fearfully in your path, or else an unexpected small animal, but mostly you will encounter nothing but the stale mixed smells of an aging building. Such apartments are like demoralized old women shrouded in wrinkles, who, mourning their . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Golem Song by Marc Estrin

The walls were floor-to-ceilinged with books–the great works of all periods. No less-than-literature volumes here. The exalted Germans and towering Russians took eye-level pride of place. And there were shrines, little face-out areas of shelving, sometimes decorated with statuettes or postcards–Buddha and Beethoven, Jarry and Rabelais, Einstein and Dostoevsky, George Steiner and Samuel Beckett, Shakespeare, Joyce, and Dylan Thomas, Wittgenstein and Spengler, Heidegger, Schopenhauer, and Clock–and the mysterious cover of Alexander Theroux’s Darconville’s Cat. And music galore. Old vinyls, cassettes, and CDs, arranged by composer, from Adam de la Halle to Zelenka. The complete works of every major composer . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick

There, at any rate, Puttermesser would sit, in Eden, under a middle-sized tree, in the solid blaze of an infinite heart-of-summer July green, green, green everywhere, green above and green below, herself gleaming and made glorious by sweat, every inch annihilated, fecundity dismissed. And there Puttermesser would, as she imagined it, take in. Ready to her left hand, the box of fudge (rather like the fudge sold to the lower school by the eighth-grade cooking class in P.S. 74, the Bronx, circa 1942); ready to her right hand, a borrowed steeple of library books . . .

Here Puttermesser . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Golem Song

Alan gawked at the lipstick kiss on his shoulder, and gazed back at the poster he had been leaning on. A blonde male model, shot head-first, recumbent in his briefs, foreshortened, looking for all the world like a god on a slab, featuring a pudendal mountain under pesticide-free cotton. At the peak of the mount, as if planted by Sir Edmund Hilary’s wife herself, a full-mouthed press of lipstick, yum. This was the attestation that had transferred itself (less passionately) to Alan’s shoulder. Sex in the age of mechanical reproduction.

The Gold Bug Variations

What he had done, how he had chosen to spend his energies, really was science. A way of looking, reverencing. And the purpose of all science, like living, which amounts ot the same thing, was not the accumulations of Gnostic power, fixing of formulas for the names of God, stockpiling brutal efficiency, accomplishing the sadistic myth of progress. the purpose of science was to revive and cultivate a perpetual state of wonder. For nothing deserved wonder so much as our capacity to feel it. (611)