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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  • Favorite Reads of 2014Favorite Reads of 2014

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    I'm surprised to learn Andres Newman is so young. Also, great overview of his books in English. Andrés Neuman is... »
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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.


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • 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 […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • 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
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

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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