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 […]

Naked Singularity Big Read: Revolutions

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

So to start this week’s section, let’s actually go back to the last page from last week’s section: this is a slightly obscure phone conversation between Casi and Dane where the former accedes to Dane’s plan to snatch the drug money form the deal discussed in last week’s section. So questions immediately come to mind: Why is Casi doing this? And why does Dane want it so much for him? And do you think there’s any legitimacy to Dane comparing Casi’s decision to go along on . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: Before the Law

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

I’d like to suggest that this weekend, as an adjunct to the Naked Singularity Big Read, you have a look at Kafka’s very short story, “Before the Law,” (which is actually taken from The Trial) and, if possible, Jacques Derrida’s essay thereof, also titled “Before the Law.” (The Kafka should be easy to locate on the Web; for the Derrida, you might want to visit your local library. It’s collected in Acts of Literature.)

What made me think of this essay was a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: Do Geniuses Make Mistakes?

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

Earlier this week we were talking about ideas of perfection, which are introduced into A Naked Singularity at the beginning of this week’s reading, and which, I think, will come to dominate the rest of the novel, in one way or another. (And at this point I quite wholeheartedly add: feel free to disagree. My reading of A Naked Singularity is gravitating more and more toward ideas of perfection, but that is by no means the only way to read this book.)

After Dane . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: Perfection

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

In chapter 3x2x1 (aka Chapter 6) De La Pava introduces one of the major concepts for this book: perfection. This and the following chapter (simply named Chapter 7) are two of my favorite chapters in the book. Dane’s story of attempting to offer one client perfect representation is, in my opinion, one of the most original, most fascinating stretches of writing that A Naked Singularity has to offer.

[Note: you should read this post all the way to the end, since at the end of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: Responding to Some Comments

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

Isabella wrote:

I did note, however, that the word singularity was used in the text (p 93): “This is why people love crime, the singularity of will involved.” So, I took the title to be using “singularity” in this more popular sense; I’m expecting the remarkable strength, focus, drive it takes to commit a crime to be laid bare.

This is an interesting point to raise. I think as the novel goes on, we’ll see concept of will come more into play, notably as will . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: Commerce and Television

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

So, in the first 40 pages we talked about the title A Naked Singularity and the strangeness that it possibly indicated, the moral system De La Pava might be establishing in the court and lawyer scenes that constitute the book’s first 40 pages, and some comparison books.

After finishing his epically long night at court, Casi heads home, and we meet some of his neighbors. This is the section where I first caught a real whiff of David Foster Wallace, whom De La Pava has acknowledged . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read: About that Title

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

Hello everybody and welcome to our summer Big Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava.

Let’s get started by talking a little about the title: a naked singularity. Singularities (not to be confused with the naked variety) are fairly common things, as astronomical phenomena go. Essentially, a singularity is the part of the black hole where gravitation becomes infinitely strong as the hole becomes infinite dense. That means is a certain part of the black hole can’t be seen, because the gravitation of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

“One of the problems with self-published books”

I think the above statement would be equally true with or without the “self-” in there, but in the context it’s appropriate.

From the Chicago Tribune’s solid article on the ongoing phenomenon known as A Naked Singularity.

“One of the problems with self-published books,” Wilson continued, “is that the great majority of them are boring, unreadable trash by people who not only aren’t writers, they aren’t even readers — the type of people who put ‘Published Author’ bumper stickers on their cars and who don’t buy two books a year but expect everyone else to buy theirs.

. . . continue reading, and add your comments

Naked Singularity Big Read Prizes

We’re starting the Big Read of A Naked Singularity in just under 2 weeks. Schedule here.

And here are some images of the four signed Xlibris editions (no longer on the market) that I’ll be giving out as prizes along the way.

Naked Singularity Big Read Schedule

naked-singularity-chicago

For the rest of the Naked Singularity Big Read posts, click here.

Here is the schedule for the summer read of A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava. The dates correspond to the first day of the week in which we will be reading the indicated segment.

Discussion of each segment will occur during that week, probably with some looking back as we go further. And there will be four signed copies of the original POD edition to be given away at various points during the read.

Schedule

June 10: Chapter 1 to . . . continue reading, and add your comments