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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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

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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

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
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  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
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  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
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  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
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Is Richard Powers Evan Dara?

Novelists Richard Powers and Evan Dara are often grouped together because they both write lengthy, info-packed narratives that draw heavily from science. Some have even gone so far to speculate that Powers is Dara. For an example of this, see Steve Russillo's page documenting his reading of Dara's second novel, The Easy Chain (see our review here):

And speaking of speaking Dutch, let me be the first to posit that if
Evan Dara isn't a distinct individual but a pseudonym, that the
pseudonym belongs to Richard Powers. So much detailed discussion of the
Netherlands (and specifically the Dutch language) abundant scientific
details, few chapter breaks, AND if you've read Power's book Gain and the Lost Scrapbook, I challenge you to miss the astonishing similarities in story and feel. (Lost Scrapbook's release predates Gain's
by just over 2 1/2 years, so it might just be that Powers is massively
influenced by Dara. But it wouldn't surprise me, is all.) [28SEP08 Addendum:
Near the top of page 172: the first and only appearance in the
narrative of the novel's title occurs shortly after the italicized line
"What could be easier?" Which is either an homage to Powers's Gold Bug Variations
("What could be simpler?" is not only the first sentence of GBV but is,
essentially, the last line as well.) or just another small but
interesting coincidence.]

Powers did in fact blurb Dara's first book, and he seems to be a fan (as does William T. Vollmann). However, I have to highly doubt the Powers/Dara speculation. First of all, let's just wield Occam's razor and conclude that the similarities between their interests are more likely to be due to mutual influences or mutual circumstances than pseudonyms.

But there's another reason why I don't think they're the same person: if Richard Powers could write like Evan Dara, I don't see why he'd write like Richard Powers. I don't mean to knock Powers, whom I regard as a very solid novelist, but Dara's stylistic abilities are far more advanced than his. If Powers really is Dara, then he has no business writing anything more as Powers.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. The Gaddis-esque Evan Dara Tom LeClaire turns in a great review in the new Bookforum, conferring some attention on the neglected Evan Dara, whom he compares to Gaddis: When...
  2. Richard Powers Formal patterning has always been a predominant feature of Richard Powers’s fiction. Powers doesn’t so much tell stories (although his fiction has plenty of narrative...
  3. Brewing Richard Powers Debate I haven’t read The Echo Maker yet, so I can’t comment, but two bloggers have some words for William Deresiewicz after he slams The Echo...
  4. Powers Speaks A few weeks ago, I posted an excerpt from an interview where Richard Powers explained that he creates his books not by writing, but by...
  5. Green on Powers Using William Deresiewicz’s attack on Richard Powers in The Nation as a sprinboard, Dan Green discusses Powers’s lastest novel. Although Dan scarcely likes the book...

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