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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

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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 Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

Meanwhile in Hungary

Very troubling situation in the land that gave us Krasznahorkai.

Then there is the question of what the Culture Secretary said to Béla Tarr. After the director of “The Turin Horse” picked up the Silver Bear at the sixty-first Berlin International Film Festival, he gave an interview to Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel in which he claimed that the Orbán government was cracking down on cultural dissenters. “The government hates intellectuals because they are liberal and oppositional,” he reportedly said. “It insults us as traitors.” Forty-eight hours later, he appeared to repudiate that statement. “That writing is not in my style,” he told a Hungarian news agency. “I do not fight, debate, or argue that way. I consider it very humiliating that all this has soiled the success and reception of our film, sinking it to the level of quotidian politics.” The State Secretary for Culture, Géza Szocs, claimed that during that time he had phoned Tarr “to congratulate him on his win,” and that Tarr had assured him the quotes were fake. Meanwhile, the Hungarian distributor of “The Turin Horse” cancelled its première, and shelved plans to distribute the film.

The situation for Hungarian writers is no less fraught. In 2011and 2012, the same Géza Szocs (who came to prominence as a poet) was the president of Hungarian PEN, which, despite its mandate to protect freedom of speech, has become closely associated with the Orbán government. In 2012, Hungarian PEN instituted a fifty-thousand-euro government-funded literary prize, which it offered to Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The American turned it down, stating that “the policies of this right-wing regime tend toward authoritarian rule and the consequent curtailing of freedom of expression and civil liberties… I hereby refuse the prize in all its forms.” The activist Elie Wiesel has also returned a Hungarian award, in protest against the attendance of government officials at the reburial of a writer who was a member of the National Socialist Arrow Cross Party, which, for a few months at the end of the Second World War, led a brief and bloody “government of national unity,” murdering between ten and fifteen thousand of their countrymen and deporting around eighty thousand to Auschwitz.

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  1. On Subsidizing Literature, and Whether It Works (This week I’m covering the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.) One thing I’m picking up this week is that the Canadians really go out...
  2. Santiago Roncagliolo Takes Foreign Fiction Prize Peru’s Santiago Roncagliolo has received the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for his novel Red April, a prize that will be shared with the book’s translator,...
  3. The White Review Issue 6 Contains my essay “The Literary Ouroboros,” plus lots of other stuff that looks excellent (and no doubt will be proven excellent once my copy arrives....
  4. Calling All Laszlo Krasznahorkai Fans If you are a serious reader of Laszlo Krasznahorkai, you must get a copy of Music and Literature Issue 2, publishing this spring. There is...
  5. Because We All Love The Franzen Mark Athitakis tries to figure out just how arrogant Franzen is being when he tell us that “At this point in my life, I’m mostly...

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