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

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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 […]

FSG’s About Face on the My Struggle Covers

Apparently the abomination is over: as Michael points out, the market has spoken, and it hates the original paperback covers for My Struggle, so FSG has gone with a change of design. Here’s how they compare.

Old (Lord have mercy!!):

New:

True, these new covers are boring as hell and reflect the InDesign skills of roughly 95% of current high school seniors, but, by God, I think at this point we’ll all gladly accept non-offensively dull over the carnival-madman-vomit aesthetic of the originals.

I admit, I’m sad in a way. I really wanted to see how that gigantic hand would look holding a big number 6. And there was an undeniable camaraderie to spotting one in a store and spontaneously bursting into laughter along with the dude who just happened to be standing next to you. Oh well.

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  1. Kafka Covers These apparently placed in the 50 Books/50 Covers design competition. Not sure how much I like these . . . what’s with the eye motif?...
  2. The Quotidian in My Struggle Interesting take here on the quotidian in My Struggle. I admit, this is an aspect of the book that gave me the most pause regarding...
  3. Face-Out Borders is shelving more books with the face out, leading to about 5 to 10 percent less books shelved total. Probably this will help sales,...
  4. More Penguin Classics Covers The Fantagraphics Blog has posted more Penguin Classics covers. You can also see them directly at Penguin. Hat tip to reader Chris for the link....
  5. U.S. Covers Vs. UK Covers Do U.S. bookcovers look better than their UK counterparts? A few case studies. I'm not terribly fond of the U.S. 2666 cover, but the UK...

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8 comments to FSG’s About Face on the My Struggle Covers

  • P.T. Smith

    Yeah, I’m mostly sad. I wanted to see how chaotic they got and you nailed the camaraderie aspect: maybe never before have I so consistently seen people utter a strong opinion and it be met with complete agreement. The cover also just fascinated me endlessly, a deeper and more confused and empty mystery than beat anything on Lost.

  • Mans

    I like the ugly ones better than the boring ones, but I guess I am in the minority. But I’ll defer to P.T. Smith as he is usually right about things.

    • P.T. Smith

      Mans! Good lord. I read your comment and wondered who the heck thought I’m usually right besides me and then saw it was you. I’m so glad you still lurk the good and safe corners of the internet and were there a way to say hey, shoot me an email without awkwardly tossing out my email address, I would do so.

      And yes, sort of replying to Michael S. below, I feel bad for the designer, nothing personal to them, because as someone recently who had to, after objection, sign off on a cover using a stock photo of bamboo for a book about social work in Asia, I have empathy.

      • PT: I think if you click on my name now, it has a link to my blog–you can contact me through that if you would like.

        And some on point content: While I don’t really like any of the covers that much, I like the size and weight of the FSG paperbacks. To the extent that a book-as-physical-object impacts my reading experience, the FSGs are the size and shape I like.

        They were also the only ones available to me when I bought Vol 1 on vacation.

  • Ed

    I love ugly covers, and am proud to own one of these FSG Knausgaards.

    They have their own aesthetic, their own weirdness…like the Vintage Contemporaries of the 1980s, they stand out.

    Weirdness is always better than bland safety.

  • I was hoping to see a comment beginning, “As the founder of the carnival-madman-vomit aesthetic, I strenuously object to…”, but so far nothing. Oh well.

  • The old cover looks like Lisa Frank by way of Terry Gilliam. I like it. The new one looks portentous/pretentious. Knausgaard looks like a smoking Jesus or at least a smoking Peter O’Toole.

  • Matthew

    Lisa Frank / Terry Gilliam sums it up perfectly.

    I’m bummed out that I don’t get to have the next five volumes match the cover design of my first volume. I quite like it.

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