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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 […]

£83,000 Book Bought by British Library

The British Library has purchased a 27-page Futurist book made of metal:

The library has spent £83,000 on this pivotal work in the development of the Italian Futurist art movement. Entitled Parole in Libertá Futuriste Olfattive Tattili Termiche (Words in Futurist, Olfactory, Tactile, Thermal Freedom), it may not have the snappiest of titles, but the 27-page metal book is a thing of considerable beauty and exemplifies the mad dynamism and energy of the Futurists.

Surrealist Love Poems

If you’re looking to send an ambiguous message to your loved one tomorrow, this book might just do it. From the University of Chicago press blog:

Editor and translator Mary Ann Caws brings together sixty poems—many of them translated into English for the first time—by Surrealists who charged their work through with all forms of eroticism. Within these pages you will read the magnificent love poems of Desnos, which rank among the greatest in twentieth-century poetry, and hear the voices of lesser known "poets" such as Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo. Poems by familiar Surrealists such as . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Literary Holiday Gifts

Litkicks offers an interesting list of literary-themed holiday gift items. Some of these, like the "eco" gift wrap, are pretty cool, whereas others make me wonder who would buy them.

For instance, the Museum of Modern Art’s "Coonley Playhouse Bookmark by Frank Lloyd Wright." This will almost surely be the first bookmark you buy that costs more than a sizable fraction of the books it will sit within.

The description is also precious:

The festive abstract balloon-and-confetti theme of the leaded-glass windows designed by Wright for the Avery Coonley Playhouse (c. 1912), . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Infinite Language

I had no idea Chinese was capable of this.

It is essential to point out that there will never be an end to the compilation of ever larger single character dictionaries, since the Chinese writing system is essentially open-ended. People invent new characters for their own names; every time a new element is discovered, a new character is created for it (e.g., LAO2 鐒 for lawrencium); special graphs must be coined for topolect morphemes; etc. This vast proliferation of characters poses numerous challenges and problems, including the following:

1. how to order and locate them 2. how to . . . continue reading, and add your comments

This Listing for One Trillion Dollars

With a 6% commission, anyone who buys artist Robert The’s "Amazon Listing as a Work of Art" through my link will have pretty much settled my finances for life. And if you wondering, I find the items bought by those who viewed this listing somewhat bewildering and a little off-putting . . . I didn’t know Amazon sold medical supplied.

I you can also find The’s listing for nothing, improbably out of stock and with a model number.

Fans of The and his book art can find more on this strange artist in our article on . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Kafka Asks for a Little Workers’ Comp

Wow. This sounds like some kind of metafictional, postmodern romp, but it’s actually exactly what it claims to be: Franz Kafka: The Office Writings.

Per This Space, it is:

A 440-page book made up of "articles on workmen’s compensation and workplace safety; appeals for the founding of a psychiatric hospital for shell-shocked veterans; and letters arguing relentlessly for a salary adequate to his merit." They were composed, Princeton UP says, during Kafka’s years as a lawyer with the Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute.

Strange eBay Listings

From the LRB’s history of eBay:

The site has made the headlines most often for the wacky merchandise that has been sold or listed over the years. The most famous instance is probably the ten-year-old toasted cheese sandwich bearing the image of the Virgin Mary that went for $28,000 in November 2004. In March this year, two sisters from Virginia sold a cornflake shaped like the state of Illinois for $1350. It was removed at first, since foodstuffs have to be sold in sealed containers with best-before dates, but the sisters got round that restriction by selling a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Empty Page

JSF asks famous authors for an empty page. They respond.

Richard Powers was the first to respond. "The favor is indeed strange," he wrote, "but wonderful. The more I think about it, the more resonance it gets: a museum of pure potential, the unfilled page!" He sent along the next sheet from the yellow legal pad on which he writes. When I held it to my face, I could see the indentations from the writing on the page that was once above it. Within a week the indentations had disappeared – the ghost words were gone – . . . continue reading, and add your comments