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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 […]

Alberto Manguel's Odd Bolano Pan

Writer Alberto Manguel is certainly a critic to be taken seriously. In reader-unfriendly times he has stuck up for reading as an indispensable act of pleasure. He has also written well about Spanish-language literature, and has even written his own successful novels.

But that just makes some of the odd statements in his review of Nazi Literature in the Americas less comprehensible. I’m going to pass right over his critique of Nazi Lit since it’s the least troubling part of his review, although I will say that it in large part amounts to “why didn’t you write . . . continue reading, and add your comments

And the Bolano Keeps on Coming

The Barnes & Noble Review has just published my piece on two new Bolano books, Monsieur Pain and Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview.

If you’ve become a Bolano fan, they’re both well worth your time (and, well, they’re both worth your time if you have yet to become a Bolano fan too). As I remark in the piece, they keep on publishing more Bolano and it keeps being of very high quality. The depth of his work is extremely impressive.

Here’s a quote from the piece, which contains a hilarious Bolano-take on Paz and Fuentes:

His musings . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Poetry, Bolano, and Jim Morrison

Words Without Borders covers the the Madmen, Exiles, and Savage Detectives: Latin American Poetry panel:

I was late to the Madmen, Exiles, and Savage Detectives: Latin American Poetry panel at the Philoctetes Center this Tuesday. I was late because I was puttering around the fourth floor poetry section at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square here in New York City. Among the shelves, out of place, was a book which has nothing to do with Latin American Poets, but everything to do with translation and so I thought you’d find it interesting, as I did. You . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Hilarious Bolano Interview

Paper Cuts excerpts a hilarious Bolano interview from the new Melville House title Roberto Bolano: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations.

Why hilarious? To wit:

M.M.: Have you shed one tear about the widespread criticism you’ve drawn from your enemies?

R.B.: Lots and lots. Every time I read that someone has spoken badly of me I begin to cry, I drag myself across the floor, I scratch myself, I stop writing indefinitely, I lose my appetite, I smoke less, I engage in sport, I go for walks on the edge of the sea, which by the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

El Tercer Reich Coming in March 2010

One of Bolano’s never-published manuscripts, El tercer Reich, will be published in the U.S. in Spanish by Vintage. (Anagrama is already publishing it in Spain.) I suppose this makes good business sense, since Bolano is still hot and there’s a large Spanish-reading population in this nation.

I’m at least curious to read this book. I was originally of the opinion that it probably wouldn’t be very good, but Natasha Wimmer, who is doing the translation into English, is of the opinion that it’s a good novel. So.

On That Bolano Myth

Jorge Volpi returns with an all-Bolano installment 3 of his essay on Latin American lit at Three Percent. It’s an interesting piece well worth reading. Volpi starts out with a sanguine take on what Bolano has become here:

I do not believe, as some Spanish critics and even some of his friends do, that the American Bolaño is a falsification, a marketing product, a forced reinvention, or a simple misunderstanding: on the contrary, maybe the power of his texts lives in the diverse interpretations, sometimes contrasting or opposed, that it is possible to extract from his . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Bolano Versus Crack

No, this isn't another reset of the Bolano/heroin thread. Rather, Chad Post makes a good addition to the Bolano myth discussion from last week. He notes some Latin American writers contra Bolano that are generally getting ignored:

Post-Garcia Marquez, it’s been near impossible for a non-magical realist from south of our borders to get published in America. A certain Isabel Allende-tainted vision of what “counted” as good Latin American literature came into being, and anything that didn’t fit that mold wasn’t marketable.

The “Crack group” (Jorge Volpi, Eloy Urroz, Ignacio Padilla, etc.) rose up . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Best of the Millennium Honorable Mention

My Bolano pick for this list–By Night in Chile–gets mentioned here.

Not too many novels can legitimately claim the adjective perfect, but I think this one has a strong, strong claim to that word. It's a well wrought work, a book that reads like a series of story-like digressions imperceptibly linked, ordered, and devised by the threads of a fallible human consciousness, and it's poignant, weighty, and very, very readable. It's the kind of book that can turn on your interpretation of just one word.

The Children's Hospital is also there, which didn't make my list . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Horacio Castellanos Moya Is Disgusted with the “Bolano Myth”

I'm not sure I can translate this properly, but this has to be one of the best lines I've read recently:

El mercado tiene dueños, como todo en este infecto planeta, y son los dueños del mercado quienes deciden el mambo que se baila, se trate de vender condones baratos o novelas latinoamericanas en Estados Unidos.

This line comes in conjunction with a very acidic essay that novelist Horacio Castellanos Moya has written on the "Bolano Myth" (published in the Argentina newspaper La Nacion). The following line explains what moved Moya to such a statement (partial . . . continue reading, and add your comments

For the Record

Just wanted to point to my short interview with Natasha Wimmer available here, mostly because she talks about the Bolano books she’s currently translating, and you know how this site is with links to meaty info on Bolano books.

If El Tercer Reich is as good as she implies, I might just have to re-think my stance on these posthumous manuscripts . . .