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.


  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

£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