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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.

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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 […]

One-Paragraph and/or One-Sentence Books: An Ongoing List

For more lists, see this page.


Over the years I’ve somewhat developed an obsession for these sorts of books. Something about the wall-to-wall big block of text (which most of these employ) and the vague stance between novel and poem (yet without really being a prose poem) just draws me in. Here’s my ongoing list of all the examples I know of. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty–please fill me in.


Zone by Mathias Enard


One of the biggest examples of the genre. I reviewed it quite favorably and interviewed the translator.


Thomas Bernhard


Perhaps the lord of this list, nearly everything he wrote applies to this category. A giant among giants, but enter at your own risk.


The She-Devil in the Mirror by Horacio Castellanos Moya


Quite appropriate that a book of his appears here, as Castellanos Moya has made no secret of his debts to Bernhard–both stylistically and disposition-wise.


Leeches by David Albahari


I don’t know much about this book other than that it fits the genre and sounds plotty. Takes place in Belgrade and involves secret societies.


Aliss at the Fire


A rare version of the genre in that though it has no periods, it actually does use paragraph breaks fairly regularly (though there are some text-blocks as well). I’m in the process of reading this one and like it so far.


Klausen by Andreas Maier


I haven’t read this one, although the book’s size reminds me of Bernhard.


Eden Eden Eden by Pierre Guyotat


I read a good chunk of this one in the bookstore. I told myself I would keep reading until the author stopped describing radically perverse sexual behavior, but, alas, he didn’t, and I had to put the book down before I became embarrassed. An apparent darling of the French intellectuals, as Roland Barthes wrote an introduction and Michel Foucault claimed it spoke things that had never been spoken before.


Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal


This is a reissue of a prior translation by NYRB Classics. It sounds quite good and Hrabal was an influential author.


Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou


A sadly failed example of our genre. The book starts out strong but cannot maintain its energy or inventiveness.


By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolano


Actually two sentences, but the second sentence is very short and this book is very, very good. Plus, it has that obsessive monologic that is characteristic of the genre.


03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat


I’m not sure anyone “got” this book except for James Wood, who gave it a good review that made me want to read it. All of the other reviews made it sound like any other French existentialist novel.


Dies: A Sentence by Vanessa Place


I know very little about this book, except that it fits the category and that some readers of this site (plus some impressive people) recommend it.


The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise by Georges Perec


I was unaware that a book of Perec’s fir this category until a reader told me so. I’m so very pleased that Perec can be placed into this company, as he certainly belongs here!

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. The One Sentence Challenge Interesting. Physicist Richard Feynman once said that if all knowledge about physics was about to expire the one sentence he would tell the future is...
  2. Zone’s Sentence The Chicago Tribune has a little more about Mathias Enard’s Zone, recently acquired for translation by Open Letter. By far, the most distinctive feature of...
  3. Sentence as Book Possibly inspired by the publication of Zone, Ed Park runs down some 1-sentence novels and variations thereof. . . . continue reading, and add your...
  4. The Ongoing Moment I’m really enjoying Geoff Dyer’s photography "encyclopedia," The Ongoing Moment. I put encyclopedia in quotes becuase you might be skeptical as to how a 304-page...
  5. The She-Devil in the Mirror Pubbing in September It took me scarcely 24 hours to race through New Directions' forthcoming Horacio Castellanos Moya, The She-Devil in the Mirror (available September). I'm going...

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