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

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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 […]

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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