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

  • DCNahm: I meant to comment on this when you posted it, but the week
  • Sudha Shastri: I have read _Midnight's Children_ several times but only jus
  • P.T. Smith: Was Ring of Saturn nearly everyone's first Sebald? I was ass
  • l: Saturn's Moons, W.G. Sebald - A Handbook, edited by Jo Catli
  • Will: Moby-Dick all the way. Maybe Beckett's Trilogy.
  • Bruno: Plays and poems are clearly the most workable choices. One c
  • S.: Don't you feel like there's too many worthy books out there

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.

  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

Reading Resolutions 2009: Beth Wadell

(Beth Wadell is a senior editor of The Quarterly Conversation. Her most recent piece for The Quarterly Conversation was a review of Frank Bidart’s Watching the Spring Festival.)

In 2009 I’d like to go back and read some of the books that everyone has read but I’ve missed out on. First on the list is A Passage to India: I’ve read a lot of EM Forster, but never this one. I’d never heard of James Agee’s A Death in the Family until this year, but am now intrigued by it. I’ve also got a plan to . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Javier Moreno

(Javier Moreno last wrote on the work of Rodrigo Fresan for The Quarterly Conversation.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

I think it is time for me to systematically read William T. Vollman. I’ve been postponing this for way too long. I loved his "Three Meditations on Death" but I’ve never gone beyond that lovely essay (besides some short pieces found here and there). My self-Christmas present last December, thus, included The Rainbow Stories and Rising Up and Rising Down (the abridged version, of course). Yesterday, I read the introduction of the later . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Barrett Hathcock

(Barrett  Hathcock is a contributing editor to The Quarterly Conversation. He most recently discussed his creative writing vis a vis his work writing as part of Issue 14′s special Writing and Work section.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

Like Scott mentioned in his Reading Resolutions for 2009, my reading tends to be haphazard, a sort of blind, intuitive groping. I’m a schoolboy at heart, so I’m always drafting lists of authors to read, periods and places still unexplored. But then after the list is complete, I often skip homework and flee the classroom of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Robert Silva

(Robert Silva most recently reviewed The Implacable Order of Things by José Luis Peixoto in The Quarterly Conversation.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

Aristocrats in immaculate parlors, privileged ladies in romantic dilemmas, and peasants among heaths, moors, and overcast skies. This is more or less my conception of British literature.  It’s been colored by Masterpiece Theatre, Merchant and Ivory films, and Yankee parochialism. And it’s unfortunately influenced my reading habits.

While diligently working my way through the great writers of South America, Japan, and Eastern Europe, I’ve barely dipped at toe into . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Levi Stahl

(Levi Stahl most recently reviewed The Romantic Dogs by Roberto Bolano for The Quarterly Conversation.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

My reading pattern tends to resemble a drunken stagger: I veer, I backtrack, I wander aimlessly. Or maybe I’m a crow, my eye constantly caught by shiny baubles. As such, though I read a lot, I’m not good at holding to plans or patterns, and my bookshelves are the opposite of food-service’s "first in, first out" system. One author mentions another in an interview, which leads me to another one that is mentioned in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Ryan Call

(Ryan Call is af requent contributor to The Quarterly Conversation. He most recently reviewed boring boring boring boring boring boring boring by Zach Plague.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

Usually my reading list is determined by what projects I’m currently working on: fiction, reviews, course planning, and so on. In the past, I’ve tried to have several kinds of books going at once: a classic, a contemporary, and a book of nonfiction. Now, for example, I’m slowly reading Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino, Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler (forthcoming Featherproof Books), and continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Sacha Arnold

(Sacha Arnold is a senior editor of The Quarterly Conversation. His most recent piece was on the novelist Carter Scholz.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

I don’t formally plan my reading very much, preferring to get pulled serendipitously in directions suggested by whatever I’m reading currently. Right now I’m just trying to keep current with what we’re covering in The Quarterly Conversation, and am in the middle of 2666 (which I’m finding both more tightly constructed and more humorous than most of the reviews led me to expect).  Next up is Tranquility, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Lauren Elkin

(Lauren Elkin most recently wrote for The Quarterly Conversation on the French artist and writer Claude Cahun.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

First up is Samuel Pepys’ diary; later in the year I hope to get to George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, and Flush, Virginia Woolf’s book about Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog.

And on the French front– I have a growing stack of George Sand that I want to read–Elle et lui, Indiana, her correspondence with Alfred de Musset. Colette: Sido and Le Blé en herbe.

I’ve been working . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: John Lingan

(John Lingan is a frequent contributor to The Quarterly Conversation. In the Winter issue, he reconsidered William Gaddis’s novels The Recognitions and J R through the lens of work.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

A number of my most rewarding reads of 2008 were total surprises, but I plan to follow their lead into ’09. First, my inaugural encounters with Philip K. Dick and Stanislaw Lem (A Scanner Darkly and Solaris, respectively) led me to work backwards and revisit some of H.G. Wells’ early novels, which I loved as a kid. These were . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading Resolutions 2009: Scott Bryan Wilson

(Scott Bryan Wilson is a contributing editor to The Quarterly Conversation. He most recently reviewed Tranquility by Attila Bartis.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

According to my stats on Goodreads, by mid-December 2008, I read 132 books for the year. Granted, probably 30 of those were poetry chapbooks, but there were enough 2666s & Easy Chains & Omega Minors & Executioner’s Songs & Darkmans to balance that out. So I am setting out a pretty bold list of stuff to get to in 2009.

Aside from next year’s big . . . continue reading, and add your comments