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

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 […]

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. 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...
  3. 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...
  4. A Writer Comes Home to Death Threats Words Without Borders has a short essay by the Salvadorian author and personal favorite Horacio Castellanos Moya. In it, he discusses how he discovered the...
  5. 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...

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