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 Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

DFW Interview

The NYR Blog has just run a truncated version of a 2006 interview between David Foster Wallace and Ostap Karmodi (full interview on Karmodi’s blog).

It’s kind of interesting to compare the two versions being offered. In the NYR edit, A lot of the answers on Wallace’s side sound like standard cut-and-paste items from the Wallace toolkit (but there are a few interesting remarks). But if you look at the full interview (admittedly, very long) there’s a whole lot of ambiguity and texture that’s really quite interesting.

Anyway, since this is a literature blog, a quote from Wallace on novels after Infinite Jest:

OK: You wrote Infinite Jest ten years ago, and after that you didn’t write any other novels, just essays and stories. Do you feel it’s over for you with big novels? Is it more interesting for you to write stories now?

DFW: There are writers in America who consider themselves only novelists. I do all kinds of different things. I will probably at some point finish a novel. Whether it will be good enough to publish, I don’t know. I tend to start three or four things for every one thing that gets finished. I was trained mainly as a short story writer and that’s how I started writing, but I’ve also become very interested in non-fiction, just because I got a couple of magazine jobs when I was really poor and needed the money and it turned out that non-fiction was much more interesting than I thought it was. So I am, as American writers go, very eclectic. I haven’t made any decisions about one kind of genre or another. I love to read poetry but I will probably never write it because I just have no talent for it. But other then that I probably want to try everything.

OK: But now you just don’t feel like writing another novel?

DFW: Well, you make it sound like writing a novel is a matter of sitting down for an afternoon. I have for the past five or six years at times made starts on things. I don’t really understand the term “novel,” but I guess anything over about 150 pages is a novel. I’ve done a couple of longer things, I just don’t like them very much right now and I don’t know whether I will rewrite them. I don’t really need the money. My wife and I live very simply. I’m sure I will write more novels; I don’t know whether I will publish them or not. A lot of stuff that I write just goes in a big box in my office and no one else ever sees them.

Also see the current issue of The Quarterly Conversation for our seven-article retrospective on Wallace’s career.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. A Rare DFW Interview So what’d he say to Bonnie Nadell that got him access to DFW? ...
  2. DFW's Insecure Style The two main characters in Infinite Jest seem to be modeled after one another, as though they have the same essential qualities, but are just...
  3. Interview with Me at Critical Mass Huge thanks to Mark Athitakis for highlighting online book review periodicals with an interview series at Critical Mass. (I get the idea that far too...
  4. Peter Nadas Interview Last week I was talking about the huge fall title, Parallel Stories. It's still months till November, but FSG is already getting the Peter Nadas...
  5. Salvador Plascencia Interview–Go Elsewhere for Intelligence In the L.A. Times, Mark Ehrman interviews Salvador Plascencia. So, Ehrman gets to interview the hot, young novelist of the moment, and what’s at the...

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