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

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.


  • 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 […]

LINKS

Smithsonian
The Smithsonian now has a flickr photostream.

News

* Matt Cheney releases the TOC for Best American Fantasy 28

* Blackwells in the UK is testing out the so-called book ATM in one of its stores. At 40 pages per minute, you could POD a copy of Vollmann in under half an hour.

* The Wall Street Journal shows how Amazon shows its clout, turning a summer book into a bestseller:

Driving that unexpectedly heavy demand has been strong
reviews and promotional support from Amazon.com. The Web retailer chose
the book as one of the best books of June and aggressively hyped it,
including by posting a long and enthusiastic blurb from best-selling
author Stephen King. The same blurb was printed inside "early reader"
copies sent to reviewers, bloggers and booksellers.

Amazon also kept "Edgar Sawtelle" on its home page for
two weeks at a 40% discount before the book hit stores, and posted an
essay written by the author at Amazon’s request.

* 100 best reads of the last 25 years

* The Literary Saloon points me to this profile of an author many consider "the most important Romanian writer of the last two decades"

Reviews

* Steve Mitchelmore has a great review of Senselessness. In addition to teasing out more of the Bernhardian influence, he gives a delightfully balanced look at the book that, thought positive, doesn’t shrink from honest critique.

* Matthew Cheney offers an overwhelmingly positive review of Stoner by John Williams, a book I keep hearing very good things about

* In Rain Taxi, a review of a sort of librarian-superhero comic, Rex Libris:

We have few badass librarian stories. Joss Whedon gave us Rupert Giles, who can swing a sword as well as shelve a tome. Kelly Link introduced us to Fox, the gorgeous and similarly sword-wielding librarian in the story "Magic for Beginners." The husband of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time-Traveller’s Wife takes care of Special Collections as his dayjob. The orangutan librarian of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is not to be messed with. Infinite librarians inhabit Jorge Luis Borges’s very small story, "The Library of Babel."

This is a fine company of heroes, but, given what we owe librarians, it is still an insufficient tribute. Librarians were among the first to stand up to the Patriot Act. They safeguard the sum of our knowledge and keep it findable. They let us read books for free. They spend their days battling forces of darkness and ignorance, and now they have Rex Libris to demonstrate this to the world.

James Turner’s square-headed, noir-ish, immortal survivor of Alexandria’s famed library is a marvelous creation.

Essays

* In The Guardian Colm Toibin on The Golden Bowl

* TNR offers an essay/review of the new work of criticism from the increasingly omnipresent Adam Thirwell

Video

Author and Believer-editor Ed Park discusses his new book, Personal Days, as part of the Authors@Google series.

The Rest

* Boxing’s highbrow appeal

* Chad Post runs down contemporary Japanese lit

* Chas Newkey-Burden hates second-hand books because previous owners tear out chapters and leave their snot in them. I find this a little dramatic. As someone who regularly picks up books off the street (and also buys plenty second-hand), I don’t think it’s too hard to flip through to see if a book has been defaced, and have yet to find any bodily waste lying in wait for me.

* Tolstoy’s translator is too sensitive?

* Books for which burning is too gentle a response

* Someone thinks he’s figured out who Godot was. But this person also interprets The Crying of Lot 49 as about the JFK assassination. So . . .

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. LINKS Someone’s trying a little too hard to look like Castro News * You see marginalia Hemingway fans should be ashamed of. A California bookstore...
  2. LINKS * A book of Ryszard Kapuściński’s poetry has been published in English * The Kindle is judged to have boosted eBook sales * In other...
  3. LINKS Yes, giant wood termites. Marcelo Ballve considers the art of Charles Juhasz-Alvarado. News * Twice as much fiction was published in 2007 as 2002. Of...
  4. LINKS News * Now you can display online what you’re reading, the exact page you’re on, and even the notes you take along the way...
  5. LINKS Above: the art of light graffiti. More photos and info here. News * No difference between Calvino and Hemingway? Iranian translators do what the...

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2 comments to LINKS

  • Scott, seriously, drop everything and read Williams’ “Stoner” and then “Butcher’s Crossing”–they were the two best books I read last year–his other two novels are okay, but “Stoner” and “Butcher’s Crossing” are just towering, colossal masterworks.

  • Herb Levy

    FWIW, Scott McLemee just writes that the idea that Godot is literally a Resistance smuggler is in the reductionist category as the idea that Crying of Lot 49 is literally about the Kennedy assassination, NOT that there’s one critic who has posited both ideas.

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