The End of Oulipo?

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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.

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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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  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
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DFW in NYRB

There’s an essay on David Foster Wallace in the current NYRB that’s a fairly competent re-hash of the main talking points surrounding Wallace, Infinite Jest, and The Pale King. As far as these things go, it’s decent, and there are even a couple of solid insights, but overall the piece left me feeling like the NYRB could be publishing so much more interesting criticism. Am I wrong in thinking that maybe 30 years ago or so an NYRB essay on a book like this would have been a lot more provocative and game-changing?

Wallace risks the credibility he has built up over three hundred–plus pages of funny, irreverent, macabre, showily agile and complex and original prose, to tell us something that we probably didn’t go into this novel expecting to hear: that sometimes clichés are true, and we avoid or scorn them at our peril. This is what Gately discovers, for instance, after a few months of miraculous-seeming sobriety, when he finds himself helplessly remembering all kinds of scenes from his childhood that years of drug abuse helped him to forget. Some of his memories are mundane (the precise look of his childhood home’s front steps and mailbox) and some of them are more obviously emotionally charged (his mother’s nightly passing out in front of the television with a bottle of vodka), but they are pretty much all unbearably painful for him to relive. This, he realizes, is what is meant by the AA talk about Getting In Touch with Your Feelings—“another quilted-sampler cliché that ends up masking something ghastly deep and real.”

Also, can anyone explain why there’s a big drawing of dogs in the middle of the essay?

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2 comments to DFW in NYRB

  • Max

    To answer your question, it’s because Wallace owned several dogs and because he, in a way, kind of looked like a dog.

  • Ro

    Dude, what are you talking about? That is one of the closest readings of his work that I have ever read. Elaine Blair seems acutely aware of what Wallace’s whole project was about. How can you be so dismissive of such a fine piece of writing? It’s kind of strange.

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