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

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


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

Lance Olsen and Ingo Schulze @ TQC

We start your week off with an interview and an essay at The Quarterly Conversation.

The interview is my conversation with experimental novelist Lance Olsen, discussing his latest novel, Head in Flames, a book that will remind a lot of people of David Markson, and possibly Don DeLillo.

Olsen must be one of my favorite writers, both as a novelist and a critic, and I think you’ll find a lot of worth in our conversation. Here’s a quote:

I’ve always been interested in the two things fiction can do that film can’t: textured language and deep consciousness. If not those, then why aren’t you writing a screenplay or piece of journalism? Head in Flames, although filled with external action, is at the end of the day all about external action perceived, all about interior spaces, how the mind moves—how, as Henri Bergson and phenomenologists like Husserl reminded us, time is a completely different (and completely elusive) experience when sensed from the inside out.

The other piece is Marcel Inhoff’s argument for why Ingo Schulze isn’t worth reading, despite being one of Germany’s most lauded novelists and one of the few contemporary Germany authors to have made significant inroads into English-language publication.

Ingo Schulze must be one of the more famous living German writers. He sells well in Germany, has won a wide variety of prizes and every new book is sure to receive broad attention and a nomination for one of the major German literary prizes. Additionally, he’s also widely translated into different languages, and has received positive write-ups in Anglophone and Francophone newspapers. In a climate where many readers and critics are concerned about the lack of attention accorded to translations, writers like Schulze are a success story. And he’s the best example that they shouldn’t always be, because Schulze is a deeply mediocre writer, and the attention he receives arguably takes away time and space from better contemporary writers in German, whose voices should be heard.

We happen to publish this just a week after Schulze’s latest English-language publication, One More Story: Thirteen Stories in the Time-Honored Mode, which received a starred review from Booklist.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Laird Hunt Review at TQC I’m sure a lot of people are still digesting Issue 17, but we’re now publishing new in-between-issue reviews at The Quarterly Conversation. First up is...
  2. The Extent of Canadian Lit (This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.) It’s safe to say that this week I’ve learned more about Canadian literature than...
  3. Prizes A good essay by Louis Menand on literary prizes. When the first Nobel Prize in Literature went to Sully Prudhomme, in 1901, the choice was...
  4. Josipovici and Translation at TQC Two new reviews this week at The Quarterly Conversation. First is a review of Gabriel Josipovici’s new book of two short novels: I read Two...
  5. New Review @ TQC The latest review at The Quarterly Conversation is of Selected Prose of Heinrich von Kleist, an author of which Thomas Mann once said “Kleist’s narrative...

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2 comments to Lance Olsen and Ingo Schulze @ TQC

  • BRC

    Let me just congratulate you on the interview. Riveting, truly. I quickly ordered Head in Flames from Amazon, as well as Rebel Yell, Olsen’s book on creative writing. The interview was everything one could hope for, especially in discussing Olsen’s narrative theories and approaches to writing. Thanks!

  • Stephen

    Nice. What a smart, articulate man. He really makes evident what, at least for me, David Shields made unnecessarily abstruce in Reality Hunger. I’ll definitely check out Head in Flames. Thanks.

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