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

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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