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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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

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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

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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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.

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  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...

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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?

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