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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You Say

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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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.


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

Josipovici on Sebald

It is customary now to quote Susan Sontag when praising W.G. Sebald, but perhaps the earliest and most prescient notice of Sebald’s promise came from Gabriel Josipovici, the British novelist, playwright, and critic. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Sebald's SIlkworms

Some interesting thoughts on The Rings of Saturn over at Vertigo:

Within a few sentences, however, Sebald makes a most remarkable turn by likening the hard labor of the weavers with that of “scholars and writers with whom they had much in common.” . . . And so there, in a revealing metaphor drawn from silk weaving, Sebald has described the doubt that plagues writers, who weave with words that are infinitely more gossamer than silk. It’s not hard to imagine that Sebald is speaking personally here. Remember that at the very beginning of The Rings of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Self on Sebald

The TLS has published the text of Will Self’s recent lecture on W.G. Sebald. Required reading, if, like me, you’re capable of falling down in admiration over a page of Sebald’s prose.

Here’s a little bit of it:

Ours is an era intoxicated by its capacity to reproduce history technologically, in an instantaneous digitization of all that has happened. But far from tempering our ability to politicize history, this seems to spur both individuals and regimes on to still greater tendentiousness. Among modern philosophers Baudrillard understood this development the best, and foresaw the deployment of symbolic events alongside . . . continue reading, and add your comments

W.G. Sebald’s A Place in the Country to be Published . . . Eventually

I guess me and Terry from the blog Vertigo have some odd mind-meld currently working, since we both discovered on Sunday that Random House will be publishing W.G. Sebald's essay collection A Place in the Country at some point in the future.

The proof is on the copyright page of Robert Walser's novel The Tanners, recently published by New Directions, which includes a 37-page essay on Walser by Sebald. Said essay is from said collection, and is duly noted on the copyright page. Amazon doesn't list the collection online, which likely means that it won't be available . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Sounds Like Sebald

Nice discussion at The Valve of The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn:

This extraordinary book, at its simplest level, is a more or less chronological account of Mendelsohn’s quest to learn the fate of his great-uncle Schmiel (Sam) Jager, his wife Ester, and their four daughters, Lorka (b. 1920), Frydka (b. 1922), Ruchele (b. 1925), and Bronia (b. 1929?). From early in his childhood Mendesohn knows where his relatives lived, in the Polish town of Bolechow, and he knows that they died during the Holocaust, but beyond this he has only fragments of information, from stories half-heard . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Sebald Guides From New Directions

Just as I'm finishing up my first reading of Vertigo, New Directions has made available guides to The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn. (via Vertigo)

Once I finish Vertigo (likely this evening), I will only have one more Sebald novel remaining to me, The Emigrants. Few authors will have left me more disappointed upon exhausting their novels than Sebald, although I find it impossible to believe that a second reading of The Rings of Saturn won't prove at least as good as the first.

I say this for two reasons. First, because . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Re: Sebald and Calvino

At TQC we've just published an interview with Jonathan Tel, whose new book, The Beijing of Possibilities, is getting favorable comparison to Sebald and Calvino.

Tracking the Elusive Vertigo ARC

Terry at the blog Vertigo discusses his efforts to secure an ARC of Sebald’s novel with the same name:

New Directions published the first American edition of Vertigo sometime in 2000 (the New York Times reviewed it June 11, 2000). More than a year later, when they finally decided to release a soft cover edition, New Directions seems to have sent out an unknown number of advance promotional copies to promote the forthcoming soft cover version – using copies of the hard cover edition. They simply took a jacket-less hard cover copy, slapped a small . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Altermodern

In the context of a couple of prior art exhibitions, Vertigo discusses yet another art exhibition built upon the literature of W.G. Sebald and entitled "Altermodern":

Usually an exhibition begins with a mental image with which we need to reconnect, and whose meanings constitute a basis for discussion with the artists. The research that has preceded the Triennial 2009, however, had its origins in two elements: the idea of the archipelago, and the writings of a German émigré to the UK, Winfred Georg Sebald.

The definition of "altermodern" ("what comes after the postmodern") as quoted . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Sebald’s Haphazard Photographs

Andrew Seal makes some interesting commentary on how images function to break up the text in Sebald's works:

If we can think of the long paragraphs as a way of quickening (or lulling) the eye, the images' precise positions on the page come to acquire a great deal of significance, as they do redirect and possibly refocus the eye, and therefore the attention and the mental process of the reader. Because there are precious few paragraph breaks in Austerlitz, the interruptions of these images are made more noticeable, and begin to assume (at . . . continue reading, and add your comments