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 […]

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