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 Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

translation, not as autobiography but autography

It’s hard to choose, but this may be my favorite quote from Michael Hofmann’s translation essay “Sharp Biscuit,” found in his recent essay collection, Where Have You Been? Hofmann tackles translation theory like a true poet—instead of digging deeply into philosophical ideas of translation, he gives us image after image, metaphor after metaphor in an attempt to describe what he does when he translates. (There’s a beautiful image there of poetry translations with facing-page originals being like a spider’s captured, wrapped up prey (the translation) just waiting to be consumed by the awaiting . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Eight Questions for Chris Andrews on The Musical Brain

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It’s early, but The Musical Brain and Other Stories—the first story collection by César Aira to appear in English—is already shaping up to be one of my favorite reads of the year. I’m a die-hard Aira fan, but there are books of his that I feel just aren’t quite as good as they might be. What I’m saying is, some of his conceits work for me, and some of them don’t.

The amazing thing for me about The Musical Brain is that it all works. These are 20 stories, and each of them is virtuosic. In addition . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura

Minae Mizumura was a runner-up for the 2014 Best Translated Book Award. That year Seiobo There Below was the winner (and virtually impossible to beat), but had that book not won, it’s very possible that A True Novel would have.

Mizumura’s project is original and interesting, and her second book to be translated into English was published last month by Columbia University Press. It is The Fall of Language in the Age of English, translated by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter.

Reviews in The Complete Review:

The Fall of Language in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven

Gail Hareven is notable for having won the 2010 Best Translated Book Award (for The Confessions of Noa Weber). I’ve heard very good things about Lies, First Person, which is publishing next week.

Not a ton of reviews available yet, but here are two: Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus.

On My Shelves: César Aira

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This is all the César Aira I own, as it would be seen on my bookshelf if you came to my home. I have him in my “Latin America” collection, sandwiched between some other Argentines—Ernesto Sábato, Tomás Eloy Martinez, and Adolfo Bioy Casares. (My copy of The Conversations is missing in action.)

The first Aira I purchased, and the first I read, was Como me hice monja (How I Became a Nun), which I found at Ghandi Books in Puebla, Mexico in 2007. I believe it was something . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Aliens and Anorexia by Chris Kraus

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I would like to recommend to you all Aliens and Anorexia by the American avant-garde writer, editor, and filmmaker Chris Kraus. Published in 2000, it was her second novel, and I think it more successfully realizes the goals set by another recent American novel, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner. (This isn’t the place for my thoughts on Kushner’s accomplished, but ultimately disappointing, novel, but if you want to read those you can find some of them here.)

What is at the heart of these two books? Modernism, femininity, feminism in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Regarding Links

After my posting last week that I was going to try and make this blog a little more writing-centric and less linky, there were some lamentations for the bygone era of the links. My best response to this is follow me on Twitter. You get all the links and much more.

But I know many of you aren’t the social media types (which I understand) so I added in a Twitter widget to the sidebar on the left. Now you can have all the goodness of my Twitter feed without actually having a Twitter account or even . . . continue reading, and add your comments

you used to say. “Desire doubled is love . . .

From Anne Carson’s “fictional essay” The Beauty of the Husband.

Repression speaks about sex better than any other form of discourse or so the modern experts maintain. How do people get power over one another? is an algebraic question

you used to say. “Desire doubled is love and love doubled is madness.” Madness doubled is marriage I added when the caustic was cool, not intending to produce a golden rule.

I thought this was a very successful book. I read it in a couple of hours over the Atlantic. I’m not quite sure what the term “fictional . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The New Deal for This Blog

Hey guys, it’s 2015. This blog first went online in 2004. In Internet time, that’s several geologic eras. In 2004, Google AdSense (and web advertising) barely existed, there was no Twitter or Facebook, Amazon was struggling for profitability (well, some things never change), and much of the mainstream press enjoyed stigmatizing this whole blog fad thing.

Anyway, point is, things are different now. The way the Internet exists has changed, and the way that I (and, I would guess, you) use the it is different. Also, I’m in a pretty different place in my life. I’ll spare you . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Must Have Been an Interesting Translation

From Oulipian Frédéric Forte’s Minute-Operas, translated by Daniel Levin Becker, Ian Monk, Michelle Noteboom, and Jean-Jacques Poucel (more info here)