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 […]

Lance Olsen and Ingo Schulze @ TQC

We start your week off with an interview and an essay at The Quarterly Conversation.

The interview is my conversation with experimental novelist Lance Olsen, discussing his latest novel, Head in Flames, a book that will remind a lot of people of David Markson, and possibly Don DeLillo.

Olsen must be one of my favorite writers, both as a novelist and a critic, and I think you’ll find a lot of worth in our conversation. Here’s a quote:

I’ve always been interested in the two things fiction can do that film can’t: textured language and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Wallace Shawn and White Privilege

At The Quarterly Conversation, Andrew Ervin ponders a writer’s responsibility to his privileged place in our society. And he does it in light of reading Wallace Shawn’s new play and book of essays:

Reading these Essays a couple times reminded me of the pressing need for white, male, middle- and upper-class authors like Shawn to think and write about race and class and all the issues our rich parents were too fucking polite to talk about in public. I can’t think of another American author more worthy of the Nobel Prize. He’s that good and that incendiary. In . . . continue reading, and add your comments

42 Years of Mark Strand

At TQC we’ve just published Donald Brown’s look at 42 years of American poet Mark Strand’s work, via his 2007 collected works, New Selected Poems.

Here’s a quote from the review:

Strand’s poems have always been inflected by a sense of words as symbolic more than descriptive. He’s about as far from being a nature poet, who yet describes a natural world, as could be. He’s also rather far removed from confessional verse, even though he does at times write about himself, or as himself. And that, to me, is the lesson of symbolist poetry: . . . continue reading, and add your comments

More Books You Won't Read in the U.S.

Lewis Manalo, the buyer for Idlewild Books in NYC, must be doing a good job. Though I’ve never been to the store, by all reports Idlewild has a great selection of world literature.

What’s more, Manalo has penned an op-ed where he describes his efforts to get books–often great works of world literature–that have never been published in the U.S. into the hands of his customers. At the very least, this is evidence against the claim that “culturally insular” Americans don’t want to read beyond their borders:

Telling your bookseller that you’ve tried every other shop in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Explaining the Difficult-to-Explain

We’re serializing John Domini’s essay “Against the ‘Impossible to Explain’: The Postmodern Novel and Society” in two parts, the first of which has just been published at The Quarterly Conversation.

The essay brings in a number of books and essays, and it covers three particular works in depth: Aureole by Carole Maso, Zeroville Steve Erickson, and Michael Martone by Michael Martone by Michael Martone. It’s a lengthy piece that’s a little difficult to summarize, but essentially Domini is writing against criticism that throws its hands up in the face of “difficult” books. Part of the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Natasha Wimmer on Horacio Castellanos Moya, Name-Checks Quarterly Conversation

In The Nation.

Graciously, Wimmer sends some kind words toward The Quarterly Conversation:

El asco struck a nerve not just in El Salvador but across Latin America. Photocopies of it were circulated where the printed book wasn't available, and in an interview with Castellanos Moya (published in the online journal The Quarterly Conversation, which does an admirable job of covering literature in translation), Mauro Javier Cardenas notes that everyone in Mexico City seemed to be reading it in the late 1990s. More than ten years after its publication, it is taught in at least one Salvadoran . . . continue reading, and add your comments

New Review: Kamby Bolongo Mean River by Robert Lopez

New review of a really intriguing new book at The Quarterly Conversation. Published by Dzanc Books, it’s called Kamby Bolongo Mean River and it sounds part-New York Trilogy, part-Beckett, and part Wittgenstein. Here’s a taste:

In Kamby Bolongo Mean River our protagonist is confined in an observation cell containing only a bed and a telephone. Behind the two-way glass, white coated doctors observe the incarcerated narrator as he chooses to answer or not answer incoming calls. The sudden ringing of the phone occasionally terrorizes the man whose frequent masturbation spells may or . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Eugene Marten’s Waste Reviewed at TQC

Our latest review is of an intense little novel:

Eugene Marten’s Waste is blurbed up by the Lish School (including Lish himself) so I was expecting a quirkily written, intelligent effort more concerned with the structures of its sentences than narrative cohesion; what I got is a brutal, disturbing little novel that works beautifully both for those who read for story and those who read for the artistry—or at least those who read for those things but who can deal with a shocking amount of physical and psychological trauma . . .

The Other Half of Moby-Dick

Recently, the Review of Contemporary Fiction published a very odd text for its summer issue. It kind of looks like Moby-Dick, but it also looks like some kind of automatic poetry.

What it is, actually, is Damion Searls’ abridgment of Moby-Dick by automatic means. A couple of years ago Orion Books published Moby-Dick in Half the Time, a book that turned Meville’s bizarre masterpiece into something resembling a psychological novel. In other words, Moby-Dick without everything that makes it distinctive.

Well, Searls’ text is everything that got cut. It’s a very interesting project, and we discuss it at . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Fall Issue of The Quarterly Conversation

We’ve just published the 17th issue of The Quarterly Conversation. The TOC is below.

If you appreciate what we do and are in a position to donate something, please do. Even if it’s just one or two dollars, this money will go a long ways toward helping us meet our costs and continue on to issue 18, 19, and beyond.

And if you’d like to support us but feel like you can’t donate right now, have a look at our Support page for more ideas.

Now on to the issue.

Features From the Editors: On . . . continue reading, and add your comments