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.


  • 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 […]

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 . . .