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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com

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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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.


  • 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 […]

Life Big Read: Question Thread

So I want to try something new here. Each week I’ll post a question thread, and then we all can post any questions at all we have about this week’s section in the comments. This can be anything, from, What does the story about X mean? to How do you translate trompe-l’œil, and what exactly is it? to Where did we last see Madame de Beaumont?

I’ll do my best to answer all the questions, but I’d like everyone else to provide answers as well!

I’ll get things started: Does anyone know if the Kubus, the tribe that Appenzzell attempted to live with, actually existed, or if existed any kind of similar tribe?

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Life: A User's Manual In Life: A User’s Manual, Georges Perec describes a rarely visited tribe deep within Sumatra. An anthropologist is trying to understand the habits of the...
  2. Life Big Read: Some Initial Thoughts and Some Questions So now that we've finished up with Part I of Life A User's Manual, I'm curious to know how people are getting along. You'll no...
  3. Life Big Read: Surfaces manual-big-read-schedule/">this week's section, with some more fully fleshed thoughts to come later in the week, once we've all had a fair chance to get through...
  4. Welcome to the Life A User’s Manual Big Read Okay everyone, the Life A User's Manual Big Read starts today. Welcome! If you need a refresher on the schedule of reading, have a look...
  5. Life Big Read: Things So now that we've had a chance to experience a bit of Life A User's Manual, let's talk about one of the most distinctive things...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

9 comments to Life Big Read: Question Thread

  • A fun idea. I have not read the story so all I can contribute are the obvious links which indicate that the answer is yes.

    http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Kubus

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubu_people

  • Stephen

    Hey Scott.

    So the Kubas are, or were, actual hunters and gatherers. It’s quite interesting that Perec would write of such people, who have few tribal possessions and no significant belief in private property ownership. It is very much the bedrock in terms of our human relationship with things. While the significance of Malinowski’s anthropology is less clear, (If I recall correctly he studied the relationship between the material, social and ideological levels of society, emphasizing in particular how the material or economic base informed the social and ideological levels) Marcel Mauss expanded his own ethnological observations into a book, The Gift. This book, which I haven’t read but have read about, as perhaps you and others have, is concerned with the concept of reciprocity, and the significance of the reciprocal relationships established between giver and receiver in the exchange of a ‘thing’. Or, as with Apenzzell, the failure to establish such a relationship with gift exchange. Obviously, this contrasts significantly with capitalist exchange and the value or meaning such exchange has on ‘things’, changing gifts into commodities-and reshaping human relationship in the process.

    I’d also like to mention the significance I found in the image of the rubber tappers and the tropical-wood trees being floated downstream, which Apenzzell meets as he makes his way upstream. It’s such a telling image of the global dynamic which capitalism established, as it grew out of its mercantile roots, whereby the ‘third world’ was created so the ‘first world’ could acquire resources and produce lots of ‘thing’s.

  • Gilly

    I found the Appenzzell episode moving, funny and tragic all at once. It takes place in the 1930s, doesn’t it, before the wholesale exploitation of resources in south east Asia .You can imagine Appenzzell thought he would find a tribe no one else had studied. With all his good intentions he was still going to exploit them. I admired the determination of the Kuba people to evade the anthropologist, to refuse his gifts and his help. It reminded me of the way Australian indigenous people refused to pass on Dreamtime stories, preferring to die with them untold. Sad and humbling. It’s interesting that the Kuba are losing vocabulary, at the same time as everyone in the building back in Paris seems to be piling words on words, objects on objects. Then Perec made me laugh out loud with his throwaway reference to the carpenter who asks his apprentice to pass the thing (le machin) ignoring the precise words for the tools of his trade.

    I liked the irony of Mme Moreau unable to find a handyman in her village Saint-Mouezy as all the cottages are now weekenders for do-it-youselfers all equipped from her catalogue.

    The elaborate James Sherwood sting; I was just thinking what a great film this would make and when I googled Ursula Sobieski I found this discussion group had already had that idea!
    http://www.readliterature.com/BC_laviemodedemploi.htm
    Some interesting decoding going on here.

    I feel Perec must have foreseen Google as I am doing a kind of Perec thing here, trying to dive beneath the surface to go further with his stories, characters and objects.

    Here’s a question I want to ask. Are the many paintings real pictures? Are some of them real? Or did Perec make them all up?

  • I liked the way Perec laid an O. Henry ending on the Sherwood tale. In a by the way comment, we are led to believe that the one million was paid in counterfeit dough.

  • The surface reading indicates the tribe but, there’s this reference which I actually found first: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubuś
    I went back and re-read the section and the comments about “they who defend themselves” and “Sons of the Interior” made be re-examine the section. Perhaps it’s nothing but it certainly does make it a bit more puzzling to me as a reader. This is especially the case since Perec emphasizes that Appenzzell is Jewish.

  • Messed up the link, sorry.
    http:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubuś

  • admin

    Gilly: Excellent question. I have no idea, but I wouldn’t put it past Perec to have tossed in a few “real” paintings.

  • [...] I’d like to pull this from last week’s question thread: So the Kubas are, or were, actual hunters and gatherers. [...]

  • Philip

    I’m really enjoying this but I realize I am a long way behind schedule!

    Is there a reason for the absence of Beaumont 2? It jumps from Beaumont 1 to Beaumont 3.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>