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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 […]

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