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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

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.


  • A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

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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