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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.

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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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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

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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 […]

Inherent Vice’s Cover

Vice
If you’re at all like me, when you saw the cover of Thomas Pynchon’s forthcoming novel you cringed, and then reminded yourself that dust jackets were made to be removed.

Well, it seems that Pynchon himself is to blame for this image. ThomasPynchon.com has the details:

The cover illustration is by Maui artist Darshan Zenith. The piece is called "Cadillac Hearse" or, perhaps, "Eternal Summer" — "A ‘Retired’ Caddy Hearse Greets Daybreak at a Beach Surf Shop" — and is one of many prints available on his Cruiser Art website. The 1959 Cadillac Hearse is parked in front of the "Endless Summer Surf Shop" (namechecking the Beach Boys Greatest Hits collection and Bruce Brown’s 1966 surfing documentary!). (Thanks to the Pynchon List for identifying the image.)

Apparently, Pynchon was searching the Web for the right image for the Inherent Vice cover, found the Cruiser Art website
and the "Caddy Hearse" piece, and wanted to use it. Penguin contacted
Cruiser Art and obtained the appropriate permissions. Darren Haggar is
Penguin’s art director for this project.

They also note that the font has been updated, from the bodice-ripper
cursive to a more modern blocky neon (above). A vast improvement, in my opinion.

The book now has an Amazon page (albeit, sans cover). The street date is August 4, but as yet there’s no snappy marketing copy by Pynchon.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. New Pynchon Details–Inherent Vice Penguin has posted its Summer ’09 catalog online (PDF format), and it includes some details as to Pynchon’s new novel. The title will be Inherent...
  2. Pynchon at 13 Pynchon enters The New York Times best-selling fiction list at #13. This link also includes an artist’s extrapolation forward from a high school yearbook photo...
  3. Master P Ron Silliman thinks the new documentary about Thomas Pynchon pretty much sucks. What we get instead is a tour of some elements of the Thomas...
  4. Weight of Numbers Journey This is interesting. The Times (London) takes you through the three year odyssey of Simon Ings’s The Weight of Numbers, from conception to publication. To...
  5. Big Money or Critical Taste Who wins? At Art Basel in Miami Beach last December, just as we were about to go out and perform on the imminent death of...

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6 comments to Inherent Vice’s Cover

  • Scott, I am not an expert in Thomas Pynchon but I am an expert in 60s classic rock, so I thought I’d mention that this image contains a hidden reference to Neil Young along with the apparent reference to the Beach Boys. Neil Young famously drove a hearse around Los Angeles in his early years, and later he wrote a song about it called “Long May You Run” which contains the lines:
    “Maybe the Beach Boys have got you now
    with their waves, singing ‘Caroline No’”
    (Coincidentally but unrelatedly, I just wrote about this song on LitKicks, though I had no idea about this cover).
    I don’t know if this fact will prove relevant to Pynchonians, but it is a fact, so I’m sending it along. Here’s a link (there must be many others as well) describing the legendary tale I’m talking about.

  • DCNahm

    1. “Ghostbusters”
    2. I like the cover.

  • Yeah, have to say I like it too. I would describe it as anti-chic, or jolie laide.

  • If this is Pynchon’s way of signaling that he would like to get in on the writing for the forthcoming “third Ghostbusters movie slash video game”, that would certainly signal the dawning of a golden age.

  • EC

    To me it looks like a tongue-in-cheek version of an Elmore Leonard cover. Because, like, I, er, saw one at an airport book kiosk . . .

  • Tim

    Levi – I doubt if the car in ‘Long May You Run’ was the hearse. He last saw that car alive near Blind River, Ontario after they missed that shift on the long decline. Been there lots – the highway hills are incredible.
    I’ve always wondered why the Beach Boys were mentioned in this song and had speculated that perhaps one of them had bought the hearse that was driven to California. ??

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