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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com

You Say

  • Graatch: Where are Bae Suah's translated novels available?
  • Yuki: Silly review. His ghostly dialogue has been part of the desi
  • WD Clarke: I just stumbled upon this 5 years late, but I appreciate the
  • Lance Edmonds: I agree with the above comment. I've regulated him to litera
  • Andrija F.: The novel's so bland it doesn't and can't provoke deep insig
  • Will: I saw that and just made the face you make when someone says
  • Johnb440: Hmm it looks like your site ate my first comment it was extr

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.


  • 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 […]

Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages

coverNot too long ago it was my pleasure to read Manuel Puig’s Borgesian-titled novel Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages. Except for a few documents that conclude the book, the story is told entirely through unattributed dialog between two characters–an elderly Argentenian exile now living in New York City and the 30-year-old man who is paid to push his wheelchair around.

The deal with this book is that each character seems uniquely suited to play a role in the other’s life. Both have repressed a lot of themselves and as the two chracters interact the begin to realize how entwined they are–even though they’re perfect strangers. It’s sort of like watching two strands of DNA meet and slowly wind into a double helix.

Puig gets a lot of mileage from the uncertainty created by dialog-only storytelling. I’m certain that a few of the chapters actually only feature one character, and are perhaps dreams or hallucinations, but it’s difficult to be sure. Also, there’s a fair amount of role-playing between the two characters, and it’s interesting to see their words tranform as they morph into these new personalities. Even though there’s very little scene setting and descriptive detail, Puig manages to draw robust characters, partly because of the uncertainty engendered by the way he approaches the dialog.

I’ll also say that this is an extremely Freudian book. The old man has son issues and the caretaker has father issues and, well, they’re pretty Freudian. Read the book and see what I mean.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Friday Column: Trusted Fellow Reader Via Dan, I find this post by The Written Nerd, in which TWN writes: The best comment of this whole conversation, summing up the problem...
  2. CA Assembly Votes to Limit Textbook Size to 200 Pages Yesterday the CA State Assembly passed a bill that would outlaw textbooks in California schools that are over 200 pages. Before becoming law it must...
  3. Why Read? (cont) Well, now that I see that Salon is in the ring on this little discussion that started with Dan Green and Leonard Bast, I’d just...
  4. A Matter of Character This weekend in the NYTBR, Lee Siegel tells us: By the 1950′s, here and in Western Europe, it was making less and less sense to...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

2 comments to Eternal Curse on the Reader of These Pages

  • I discovered Puig in grad school in the 70s when a Comp Lit prof assigned Heartbreak Tango. I liked it so much that I ran out and read Betrayed by Rita Hayworth and his other books.
    Around 1978, I saw a notice that Puig was going to appear at a function at the Argentine embassy and it was open to the public, so I went. He read and took questions, but everyone else, it was clear, was an Argentinian who had never heard of him or read his books — although they were very proud of their successful countryman. So their questions were all about Argentina.
    I asked him about his narration through dialogue, multiple first-person narratives, that strange style where his comma splices run on for pages, and how he tells stories by describing official documents, photos, etc.
    He told me that growing up in a macho country, he’d always felt different (Puig was pretty fem) and after he left the movie business and tried to write fiction, he felt he did not have the masculine authority to write in the third person.

  • Wacky Racer

    The other deal is that Puig wrote the book in English, and, to my eye, the language is fresher and less stiff than many of the extant translations of Puig’s other works.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>