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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Recent Posts

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    A few months ago when Knausgaard fever was sweeping these States, I saw some people promulgating the argument that if a woman... »
  • Ahh, the MemoriesAhh, the Memories

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  • A Horrified And Sympathetic Response To Michael Haneke’s The Seventh ContinentA Horrified And Sympathetic Response To Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent

    So I've got a little something in the latest issue of Drunken Boat. If you'll indulge me in some meta commentary, the origin... »
  • The Strange LibraryThe Strange Library

    I don't really know why, but a new book from Haruki Murakami always seems to have a bit of that wow factor, even though I've... »
  • Two PansTwo Pans

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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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

The new Dostoevsky

Been a while since I read Crime and Punishment. Sounds interesting.

Several earlier translations tended to smooth over Dostoevsky’s stylistic peculiarities, robbing the novel of the unique, jagged tone and nervous repetitions that best represent Raskolnikov’s anxious state. Ready sought to preserve these lexical peculiarities of Dostoevsky’s language in his own work, while also trying to maintain the novel’s hypnotic and compelling power. In doing so, he inevitably stumbled on some unique features of Russian that are very hard to reproduce in English.

“All those particles and adverbs, often denoting elusive emotions and emphasis rather than . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Golden Handcuffs

The current issue of the Golden Handcuffs Review has my essay “The Eclipse; Or, The Vulva,” which is part of a series of work based in the novels of Walter Abish. Plus there’s an interview with Joseph McElroy, a new translation by Harry Mathews, poetry by Rae Armentrout, and a whole bunch of other stuff. So, you know. consider buying the issue.

The Translation Is Hot

While I tend to lump blockbusters into an outlier category regardless of what language they were originally written in, I do think that there’s something to the fact that people will increasingly bandwagon on books not written in English. Michael Orthofer correctly observes that there’s still a way to go before we get back to what would in prior times be considered a moderate amount of interest in translated literature, but there does seem to be some reason for optimism. People aren’t quite as weirded out by foreign literature as they once were. Anglos, in general, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

LRB on Robbe-Grillet

Nice that there are still places like the LRB that publish things like this:

By the time he was elected to the Académie française in 2004, Alain Robbe-Grillet had suffered a cruel fate: he had all the renown he could have hoped for but few readers to show for it. The literary movement he’d launched half a century earlier – the nouveau roman – had ground to a halt. The new novel – anti-psychological and anti-expressive, stripped of individualised characters, temporal continuity and meaning itself – was no longer new. Like the total serialism championed by his . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

This is the first review I’ve read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic’s point of view, could have done a lot better. Essentially, it reads to me like a bunch of clichés about Murakami’s writing, minus any actual critical judgment about this book, or any deep insight into how this book feels or works. To wit:

Yet we’re undeniably in Murakamiland. Nobody else could have written this novel, or dared to try. Then again, given the remarkable continuity of his fiction, nearly every Murakami novel feels like a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Bae Suah on Sebald

Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I’ve discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been translated, I wanted to read it.

It was After Nature that got me hooked on Sebald. I opened the wings of the altarpiece that was Sebald himself and entered the world I found there, that world that had initially seemed as inscrutable as the man. Even now, it seems as though I’ve forgotten to go back to the world I’d known before. I discovered that for certain people, time is divided . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Old School QC

Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary websites, it’s nice of Michael to include The Quarterly Conversation among the sites that have “moved up in the world.” Although it’s a little fuzzy now, I still remember those old Typepad days, as well as when I used to code each page of the site by hand in a text editor. Ahh, the memories, which reminds me, the site is due for an update one of these days . . .

Wallace Marginalia

The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace wrote in books he read.

All Hail Augustus

Daniel Mendelsohn’s introduction to the NYRB Classics’ reissue of Augustus is now available online as part of the Aug 14 issue of the New York Review.

If you’re a fan of Williams, this book will seem different in some interesting ways. It’s much more obviously postmodern, in the sense that it’s a bit of a fantasia constructed on the life of a historical figure, and it takes place completely via fake historical documents (letters, diaries, etc) that Williams creates entirely. The preoccupations are the same, however, except perhaps that this book is much more interested in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Anybody?

I don’t expect The New York Times to have mastered the minutia of every single topic on earth, but it would be nice if the paper of record managed to correct the most glaring errors in this profile.

Here’s a hint of where to start:

That is not to say that Mr. Krasznahorkai is an easy read. He writes sentences that can go on for pages and pages: “The Melancholy of Resistance,” in which a bizarre circus wanders into yet another small town in the dead of winter, toting a gigantic stuffed whale, consists of a . . . continue reading, and add your comments