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.


  • 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

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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