Quantcast

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

  • Max: Henry, it seems a little odd to say that Proust and Kafka an
  • Mike: I agree with much of this discussion, though I'm not sure wh
  • S: This outpouring has been pretty wide-spread indeed. To be ho
  • Will: Salman rushdie is a microscopic crapule on the asshole of th
  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
  • Paul: Vanessa Place's 'La Medusa' seems like an American authored
  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b

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 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 […]

More on Laura

Dan Green has some interesting points re: Nabokov’s final ms:

In discussing the issues involved in this controversy, Ron Rosenbaum asks, "Does the lust for aesthetic beauty always allow us to rationalize trampling on the artist’s grave?" But the unfinished manuscript could not have "aesthetic beauty" as Nabokov would have defined the term. Aesthetic beauty emerges from the work as it is fully shaped, exhausting its creator’s artistic resources. The completed work might fail to have aesthetic beauty, but only the completed work manifests the aesthetic beauty the artist/author attempted to bring about. Nabokov wanted The Original of Laura destroyed because it coud not provide the aesthetic satisfaction he wanted his fiction to provoke above all else. (The "tingle" in the spine he himself most valued when reading works of literature.)

There are of course notable challenges to the purity of effect Nabokov demanded. Kafka wanted his incomplete work (including The Trial) similarly dispatched to oblivion, and most of us are surely glad that Max Brod, his executor, did not follow his instructions. Few would deny that even in their truncated or unpolished form Kafka’s novels provide a distinctive aesthetic experience. Perhaps The Original of Laura would also redeem itself in its fragmentary state, although from Rosenbaum’s description of it (through Dmitri Nabokov), it doesn’t seem that it will. Still, Nabokov is such a beguiling writer it is certainly possible that this 30-page manuscript has a sufficiently realized appeal that it would be a loss to literature–or at least to Nabokov’s body of work–if it were to be destroyed.

I agree wholeheartedly that since Nabokov was such a notorious stickler for not publishing an ms unless it was exactly as he wanted it (death, one would think, being an obstacle to this), that constitutes good reason to not publish it.

The Kafka point is a good one, but I think this is significantly different case: without Laura, Nabokov still leaves us a substantial body of work.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. What More Can He Say? I didn’t know people were still trying to get The Original of Laura published. Apparently, they are. I don’t know why this would be newsworthy,...
  2. Eco on Beauty In the Guardian, Umberto Eco has an essay on what is considered aesthetic. He seems to be arguing that the “anything goes” mentality of the...
  3. Laura Miller on Against the Day Lord help us. Laura Miller has reviewed Against the Day. This isn’t about her not liking it. I’m perfectly fine with people not liking ATD,...
  4. Marcus on Lynch Via Matt, a chapter from Greil Marcus’s new book. He discusses the movies of CR-favorite David Lynch. From 1990 to 1991, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks...
  5. Nabokov This article says that his final unpublished novel is finally going to burn (like Nabby always wanted), but I think this is all a bit...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

1 comment to More on Laura

  • DW.

    >I agree wholeheartedly that since Nabokov was such a notorious stickler for not publishing an ms unless it was exactly as he wanted it (death, one would think, being an obstacle to this), that constitutes good reason to not publish it.
    > The Kafka point is a good one, but I think this is significantly different case: without Laura, Nabokov still leaves us a substantial body of work.
    That first para seems to imply that the author’s wishes should be respected. So how does the ratio of extant “official” to “unofficial” work — the distinction suggested in the second para — have any relevance?

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>