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

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 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 […]

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>