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 […]

LINKS

Lange
The University of Chicago publishes a new book of rarely seen Dorothea Lane photos. Press release, excerpt.

News

* Quarterly Conversation contributor Lee Rourke on the decline of the British avant-garde

* Paul Verhaughen, whom you’ll all remember as the author of the Pynchonesque work-in-translation Omega Minor, has a blog. I find it amazing that a guy capable of writing this on his blog didn’t get better publicity in the States:

I shoot an email back
asking if I can have the money (4,950 euros, or about $7,500) donated
to Human Rights Watch. Usual pattern: Let me ask, says the lady. It
takes a few months, including a vote, apparently, in some local
parliament, for this to clear. But it does. I’m happy. In the meantime,
I am waiting for the press release – again, I live abroad, so I don’t
get my face on TV, I have no weekly column in De Standaard, I do not do fashion photo shoots for Dag Allemaal or semi-nude lay-outs for Flair,
I am, in other words, not really part of the daily fabric of life of
most Flemings — let’s just say I imagine I could use the publicity.
Nothing happens, so I reckon there must be a reason for this. Then, in
November 2007, and did I mention we are talking the 2006 Prijs voor Letterkunde van de Vlaamse Provincies,
not the 2007 one?, some dude from the province of Oost-Vlaanderen where
I am allegedly born, contacts me about having an actual ceremony. That
must be the reason! It’s a secret! There’s an envelope to be opened
while a drumroll rolls and a fat opera singer belts from the top of her
mighty lungs! Sweet, I say, and can I assume you do pay for an airplane
ticket? Merry laughter bounces off the return email. No, no, no travel
money, what am I thinking?, but, know what?, they’ll hand “it” to me
‘next time I’m back home’. I try to quietly explain that I go back only
rarely, and that shelling out $1,500 dollars for a ticket for me and
sultry S. just to pick up a mysterious “it” isn’t something I can
easily afford, but then Dude says don’t worry just keep me posted.
Which I do. Then it turns out that the weekend when I did go back –
because I was in London anyway – didn’t work and was too short notice
and so sayonara and catch you perhaps next time, compadre? Which, I
quietly explain to aforementioned Dude, is not likely to be anytime
this year? This pisses Dude off, alas; he never bothers to answer that
email.

* The LAT is laying off 150 employees

* The Economist on the winner of the so-called African Booker. Sounds fun:

In Ms Rose-Innes’s prize-winning “Poison”, it is not blood that fills
the atmosphere but a toxic black grit—fallout from an explosion at a
chemical factory that has emptied Cape Town of its inhabitants.
Reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic work of an earlier generation, Nevil
Shute’s “On the Beach” (1957), “Poison” explores a city where there is
no power and no petrol; only birds falling dead “like lumps of some
tarry black precipitate” from a sky thick with “bloody light”.

* The Observer Translation Project. Looks like a promising source for reading works-in-translation on the Web.

* Aleksander Solzhenitsyn’s The First Circle is finally getting published in English

* Don’t buy your Kindle just yet. Word is, the next generation will be available this fall. (And now I realize yet another advantage to owing real books: no upgrading.)

Essays

* The August Harper’s has William H. Gass on Henry James. You wanna read, you gotta pay, although I’d recommend against doing so unless you’re interested in hearing Gass comment on the possibility of James being homosexual and the number of British clubs he was a member of. Why Gass wastes his and our time with this nonsense, I have no clue.

* Messud on Louise Erdrich:

Erdrich’s novels are marked not only by their lucid, lyrical prose (she
is a fine stylist, and her sentences are a joy to read), but also by
the digressive complexity of their unfolding, by their refusal to
relinquish the mystery, the oddity, and the idiosyncratic significance
of even apparently minor objects and happenings. Her characters inhabit
a world in which, through storytelling, myth is made not only of grand
tragedy—a family murder and an unjustified lynching, for example, in The Plague of Doves—but
also of an eleven-year-old’s infatuation, or of a courting couple’s
fishing date. No strand is too slight, or proves too colorless, to
leave out of the grand tapestry.

* Moody on Mason & Dixon:

If the action sounds picaresque, that’s because it is. The 450 middle pages of
Mason & Dixon most resemble the great picaresque novels of Fielding
or the metaphysical comedy of Voltaire’s Candide. What makes M&D
modern (besides uncanny similarities between the Enlightenment and the
millennium, besides sly references to contemporary culture — to dope
smoking, to popular music: "’Is it not the very Rhythm of the Engines,
… the Rock of the Oceans, the Roll of the drums in the Night’") is
the tremendous intellection spun into its episodic action: Charles Mason’s
ambition (which is matched only by Dixon’s refusal to be ambitious at all,
except in womanizing, drinking, and fishing) is to understand the invisible
forces behind the physical laws that make up his work during the
Enlightenment. Like
Vineland, in which scarcely a character escapes without being described
as a ghost, and like GR, with its cast of revenants, Mason &
Dixon
dwells frequently on what is hidden.

 

The Rest

* The Poetry Postcard Fest. You too can be a part:

Get yourself at least 31 postcards. These can be found at book stores,
thrift shops, online, drug stores, antique shops, museums, gift shops.
(You’ll be amazed at how quickly you become a postcard whore.)

On
or about July 27th, write an original poem right on a postcard and mail
it to the person on the list below your name. (If you are at the very
bottom, send a card to the name at the top.) For crying out loud WRITE
LEGIBLY!

Starting on August 1st, ideally in response to a card
YOU receive, keep writing a poem a day on a postcard and mailing it to
successive folks on the list until you’ve sent out 31 postcards. . . .

* The Expresso Book Machine: backlist savior or vanity press on the cheap (and right in in your hometown bookstore)?

But the vision of a bookstore as a sort of Kinko’s, or a
bricks-and-mortar version of iUniverse sends shivers down my spine. I
think of bookstores as one of the gatekeepers of culture, not as a
one-stop shop where you can buy Ulysses and print that collection of poems you’ve been putting together.

* Mind maps

* Narrative medicine

* Blogs are being used to teach literature in the classroom

* How is this possible? "While Turks spend an average of five hours a day watching television, they devote only six hours in an entire year to reading."

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Good Against the Day Review Christopher Sorrentino in the LA Times shows what a good Against the Day review looks like. (John Freeman take note.) This, to me, is the...
  2. LINKS * The Millions has a lengthy rundown of some anticipated books for 2008 * Once again, New York City fails to crack the top ten...
  3. LINKS * Other folks begin hauling in those 2666 ARCs * And some are still waiting (well actually, not any more) * And we all...
  4. Pynchon Release Moved Up Get that shit 2 weeks earlier. Interesting to see them jockeying Pynchon up a little bit. Mason & Dixon did about 300,000 in hardcover, truly...
  5. LINKS * No Caption Needed: In short, the appeal of the cover image appears to be altogether innocuous. And given U.S. contributions to the problem...

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5 comments to LINKS

  • Chris

    Re: Gass (bag) on James
    Lord, how I’ve tried.
    Cartesian Sonata.
    The Tunnel.
    In The Heart of the Heart of the Country. Willie Master’s Lonesome Wife.
    I feel like I have given Gass more than enough chances.
    I just can’t do it anymore.
    I know I’m supposed to consider him some kind quality lit genius, but nothing connects with me.
    Maybe it’s me.
    All I know is that whever I see his name I wince.

  • xmattxyzx

    I consider Gass one of my absolute favorite writers, even though the only fiction of his I really enjoyed was The Tunnel. But, man, did I enjoy it.

  • Actually the ‘no upgrades’ issue is a real concern for digital literature. With each transition there will be a certain amount of data lost: a minor issue, relatively speaking, but something to keep in mind.
    Platforms are a bigger question mark: standardized languages for content delivery; exclusive vs non-exclusive rights; hacking to release content; viruses designed for specific delivery systems.

  • LML

    I sense fraudulence in Gass’s tone, often. My suspicion is that he is not the real deal, but I haven’t read enough of his fiction to confirm this.
    It should be pointed out, though, that Gass was criticizing the James bio author for overemphasizing the issue of sexuality. In that he was just doing the job they paid him for.

  • Just to be clear, I think Gass is a great writer and a great critic, which is why I don’t see why Harper’s paid him to write about James’s sexuality. I know, I know he was just reviewing the bio . . . well, plenty of critics write about whatever the hell they want when they’re given 5,000 words to talk about a book they didn’t like, and Gass has certainly earned to right to do just that. Wish he had.

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