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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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

Nonprofits
How nonprofits will meet in the 21st century? From the flickr photostream Nonprofits in Second Life.

News

* More cutbacks in the Chicago Tribune and LAT book sections are likely

* NPR, by contrast, is upping its coverage

* Chad Post lets the cat out of the bag that NYRB will be publishing the 1600-page book on Borges by Morel-author and best friend Adolfo Bioy Casares (albeit, somewhat abridged)

* This just sounds odd: "The city of Frankfurt’s prestigious art museum, the Schirn, cancelled Friday its plans for a literary art exhibition because Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk failed to write a book on time." Actually sounded like a cool exhibit . . .

* Each Iranian reads one book every 1892 days

* But reading in Spain is booming

* The era of the disposable book. How about, instead of rushing out to publish junk like Jonah Goldberg’s latest feast of erudition, publishers try to figure out intelligent way to promote all the good things in their backlist. After all, we’re seeing more and more publishers dedicated to bringing back OOP titles . . .

Given those pressures, I understand why a conscientious publisher would choose the first option — to add titles fast and hope to catch some cultural wave. Think of Hannah Montana, Obama-mania, entrepreneurial self-promoters with a brand to build or political provocateurs such as Jonah Goldberg, whose pointless thought exercise "Liberal Fascism" is just the latest example of what the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan once termed "boob bait for the bubbas." Authors such as Goldberg serve up red meat for their constituencies while cable broadcasters fill airtime with their extreme, quasi-entertaining notions — in this case, the "parallels" between Nazi policies and those of such Democratic leaders as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Books of this ilk have always existed. But in the past, they’ve been balanced by substantive books, crafted by monomaniacal authors who devoted years to the work. I can’t prove it empirically, but when I talk to literary agents and fellow publishers, they acknowledge an unarticulated truth about our business: Fewer authors are devoting more than two years to their projects.

Essays

* Wyatt Mason renders an appropriate note of thanks for the republication of Leonard Michaels’s short stories, delivers the news that FSG will publish his essays in 2009, and then offers up a Michaels essay for us all to enjoy.

* E.L. Doctorow on the knowledge deniers

Essays

* Nina L. Khrushcheva’s new book on Nabokov and what he means for contemporary Russia is not terribly well loved at the NY Times:

The result is a “dialogue” with Nabokov that becomes all too literal when Khrushcheva travels to Montreux, Switzerland, to converse with the novelist’s bronze statue in an unfortunate heart-to-heart blending quotations from the writer’s own work and lines composed for him by Khrushcheva. As protean as he may have been, the real Nabokov was never so humorless as this grim puppet.

Video

* Book launch 2.0. "That thing that looks like ‘delicious,’ but with the dots in it . . . oh, it is ‘delicious.’" So true, so hilarious, so sad.

Audio

* By definition, anything that interests Lawrence Weschler interests me. This axiom works because I have not yet found anything that Weschler could not make interesting while discussing it. So, you can imagine how I reacted to this audio of Weschler and others discussing Erin Hogan’s book on the landscape of America’s West, Spiral Jetta.

The Rest

* I wish more small presses would offer subscription options. Open Letter is currently offering their first six titles for $65. Archipelago also offers subscriptions with various price/book options, though, sadly, I don’t see any info about it on their website.

* It’s not enough to send books these days

* When Scott McLemee considers getting a Kindle, we all must consider if our time is come

* Among other revelations in a new Casanova bio: he was bi, and he owed his success to the Kabbalah

* What helps a litmag survive?

* Apropos of my love for all things Middlemarch, I point you to this epigraph from the book discussed at Languagehat

* Pardon me if I find this Guardian blog post about how Murakami cleared the way for translations a bit naive

* Google’s translation without translators may enable science without scientists

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. LINKS * The Village Voice discusses art of the African diaspora: Africa, however, is a different matter. Its art continues to remain resistant to assimilation,...
  2. LINKS In the Virginia Quarterly Review, Lawrence Weschler discusses the art of Robert Irwin News * Rejoice squinters! Celebrate, o thee who enjoys scrolling Melville...
  3. Prize Games The Literary Saloon on why more openness would benefit literature prizes. As we’ve mentioned many, many times (most recently when the 2006 longlist was announced),...
  4. LINKS * The Literary Saloon gives more evidence to back up the claim that the NY Times is anti-translation. I wonder, though, how the other major...
  5. LINKS * The Literary Saloon further gives the lie to the recent contention that "Now it’s rare to go a single issue of the NYTBR without...

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