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 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 […]

£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