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 […]

Weekend Content

Google & the Future of Books:

How can we navigate through the information landscape that is only beginning to come into view? The question is more urgent than ever following the recent settlement between Google and the authors and publishers who were suing it for alleged breach of copyright. For the last four years, Google has been digitizing millions of books, including many covered by copyright, from the collections of major research libraries, and making the texts searchable online. The authors and publishers objected that digitizing constituted a violation of their copyrights. After lengthy negotiations, the plaintiffs and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

It would not by hard to kill a significant fraction of your weekend at The Book Cover Archive.

Boston Review, "Worldmaker: Remembering Thomas Ditsch":

Like all writers attempting to make a living in that genre, he knew very well what status it had in the great world of literature—a separate file drawer, Kurt Vonnegut remarked, that critics seem to mistake for the urinal. On the other hand, Disch held no real brief for the form as it came to him from the masters—quite the opposite. His 1998 dissection of SF, The Dreams  Our Stuff Is Made . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

A piece of short fiction from Tranquility author Attila Bartis is available in English at Hungarian Quarterly

Madrid’s Prado museum becomes the first one that you can tour with Google Earth.

An interview with one of Penguin Classics’ designers:

Please elaborate on your process of gathering typographical inspiration for the Boys Own Books series.

CBS: I spent a lot of time in the London Library printing and typography section. It’s a great place. It was there that I re-kindled my love of Nicolete Gray, one of the few female typographers in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

Steve Reich

(thanks to Alex Ross)

The Nation, BookExpo 2012, Los Angeles, wherein the future is, for once, not nearly so bad as the present, and the neo-cons prove to be publishing’s salvation:

If I Did It, by George W. Bush Early in President Bush’s administration, when his reign seemed catastrophic merely for humanity at large and not equally so when measured by his own nominal aims, there commenced a lively debate among progressives about whether Bush was as unreflective and intellectually stunted as he appeared to be or if he was, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

Recreating a Disaster–William Blake at the Tate:

"Blotted and blurred and very badly drawn," sneered the Examiner – which, with its progressive politics, was in some ways the Guardian of its day. "The poor man fancies himself a great master, and has painted a few wretched pictures." The critic – the only reviewer of Blake’s 1809 exhibition – reserved, if possible, a more splenetic vocabulary for the catalogue, which Blake also wrote. "A farrago of nonsense, unintelligibleness, and egregious vanity, the wild effusions of a distempered brain," the Examiner thundered.

History has . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

Cyril Power

More Intelligent Life:

Among the most famous was Cyril Power, an extraordinarily creative printmaker, born in 1872, who soaked up Flight’s enthusiasms and gave them new force. Power drew on many influences–the German Expressionists (who invented linocutting before the first world war), the Italian Futurists, the Vorticist prints and paintings of Wyndham Lewis–and the enthusiasm for speed and movement that marked the work of so many artists of the period, from Natalya Goncharova to Marcel Duchamp.

Alex Ross’s Favorite Leonard Bernstein Recordings

More . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

The Quarterly Conversation: Issue 14

Some items you might have missed:

Listen to our audio interview with Aleksandar Hemon. Carter Scholz, writing in the tradition of William Gaddis and Richard Powers: Scholz’s familiarity with his material has led some readers to assume he is a disgruntled nuclear physicist. But his background is in science fiction, not science, with a record of published shorter works stretching back over 30 years (representative samples are collected in the 2003 collection The Amount to Carry). He has also collaborated with Glenn Harcourt on the novel Palimpsests (1984) and with Jonathan . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

LRB, Double Thought by Michael Wood, which weighs whether or not Kafka’s office work was a wellspring of his fiction:

Where did Kafka learn to think like this? A case could be made that he found his training not in his intricate psyche or in his horrified commitment to writing – ‘the service of the Devil’, he called it – but in his day job at the Prague Institute for Workmen’s Accident Insurance. Born in 1883, he trained as a lawyer, worked briefly for an Italian insurance company in Prague, the Assicurazioni Generali, and then in 1908 . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

The Jewish Quarterly, "Irène Némirovsky and the Death of the Critic" by Tadzio Koelb. The rebirth of the author becomes the death of the critic:

The publishers of Suite Française take little credit for its market success, but some details of the marketing campaign suggest this is false modesty. It would be an understatement to suggest that Suite Française enjoyed a much larger marketing budget than most foreign work; it was, in fact, Chatto & Windus’s second largest budget for that year; posters were displayed in the London tube, a series of major trade promotions were pursued . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Weekend Content

Joan Miro: “I want to assassinate painting. I intend to destroy, destroy everything that exists in painting. I have utter contempt for painting.

NYRB: Two Paths for the Novel, wherein Zadie Smith argues persuasively against the exact kind of novel she’s been trending toward.

From two recent novels, a story emerges about the future for the Anglophone novel. Both are the result of long journeys. Netherland, by Joseph O’Neill, took seven years to write; Remainder, by Tom McCarthy, took seven years to find a mainstream publisher. The two novels are antipodal—indeed one is the . . . continue reading, and add your comments