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

  • A Matter of PunctuationA Matter of Punctuation

    Interesting thoughts on how McCarthy revitalizes the 18/9th-century prose he is known for being inspired by. Aside from... »
  • Conversations with BorgesConversations with Borges

    Seagull is publishing 3 volumes of conversations between Jorge Luis Borges and Osvaldo Ferrari. Volume 1 is now out. And the... »
  • The Last RedoubtThe Last Redoubt

    New essay of mine over at The White Review. It involves Abbas Kiarostami's film Close-Up and me. I think you'll like it.... »
  • Wallace vs. The Program EraWallace vs. The Program Era

    Mark McGurl considers David Foster Wallace as a creature of the program era: And, more importantly for my purposes here,... »
  • Saer in NYRBSaer in NYRB

    There's a nice essay on Juan Jose Saer in the current issue of the New York Review of Books, centering on La Grande, Saer's... »
  • OopsOops

    But, fortunately, probably not as good as Kafka. Take the example of Casimir Adamowitz-Kostrowicki, born in Paris in... »
  • The Other MitteleuropeanThe Other Mitteleuropean

    The New York Review covers the latest book from the one many prefer to Stefan Zweig. Hitler was named Reich chancellor... »
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You Say

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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 […]

Translating Modiano

Mark Polizzotti on translating Patrick Modiano. His translation of Suspended Sentences comes out next month from Yale University Press.

The Occupation has been described as the “black hole of French memory.” Modiano’s particular talent has been to extend that void, to expose the profound moral ambiguities it covers over and the responsibility for those ambiguities in the most mundane aspects of his characters’ daily lives. Similarly, the Nobel citation focused on “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation.” At the same . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Beckett’s Letters, Part III

Another review for Volume 3 of Samuel Beckett’s Letters. The Independent.

The success of Waiting for Godot is still warm and he faces a world of admirers in new translators, writers, journalists (“the bastards”), actors and directors: “people, people, signatures, smiles, confusion of names”. These are the years when Harold Pinter first meets Beckett and Beckett first meets Buster Keaton, each to their heroes. Beckett marries his partner, Suzanne Deschevaux Dumesnil, and falls for his lifelong confidante to be, Barbara Bray.

The pull of two languages is mirrored by the pull of two private lives. Success . . . continue reading, and add your comments

If You Don’t Know About Publishing . . .

Busy day today, so I don’t have the time to catalog all the absurdities here, but needless to say Matthew Yglesias should stick to industries he understands. And he might want to learn to write like a grown-up.

Here’s a little real talk about the book publishing industry — it adds almost no value, it is going to be wiped off the face of the earth soon, and writers and readers will be better off for it.

The fundamental uselessness of book publishers is why I thought it was dumb . . .

What is indisputably true . . . continue reading, and add your comments

There Is Only One Way to Read

I know that people like Farhad Manjoo get paid to be techno-utopians, but I still don’t quite understand why they seem to think that e-readers are an “all or nothing” proposition. It’s kind of like if you really like your blender and you go on an evangelical tear professing to all and everyone that THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO BLEND MOTHERFUCKERS AND IF YOU DO NOT BLEND AS I BLEND YOU ARE A POOR FOOLISH LUDDITE!!!!!!!!

Kindles are a tool that people who love to read books can use. So are smartphones, iPads, Kobos, Nooks, print . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Two New Cavinos

Collection of Sand has just been published in English in the U.S., as has the Complete Cosmicomics. More Calvino in the world is better.

Here is Ron Slate on Collection of Sand.

Collection of Sand comprises four sections. The first part, “Exhibitions – Explorations,” includes ten pieces that mainly deal with shows and exhibits he visited in Paris: an exhibition of “bizarre” collections (sands, cowbells, train-tickets, toilet-paper packaging, etc.), early maps of the New World, the recreation of an 1856 display of wax monstrosities in wax, cuneiform and hieroglyphics, on the making of Delacroix’s “Liberty . . . continue reading, and add your comments

“a plant that grew out of a dung heap”

Best post-Nobel piece I’ve read on Patrick Modiano.

Modiano’s aim has been to place his own personal history against a broader social backdrop. He has called himself “a plant that grew out of a dung heap”, and, more directly, at least at first, “a product of the Occupation, the time when one could simultaneously be a trafficker of black market, a gestapiste of the Lauriston street and a pursued man. It is in this time when I met my father, a cosmopolitan Jew, and my mother, a comedian of Belgian origin, in the pre-war cinema”. (Modiano’s first . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Back to the Beginning

A nice review of Lila at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

So when I tell you that Lila ends with a birth, if you are anything like me, your first read of this novel will be vaguely agitated. Not because it is unclear what will happen (this is no spoiler: we know from Gilead that there will be a child and that both he and Lila will live), but rather because across nearly 1,000 pages and over 30 years of reading Robinson, we have not yet encountered a depiction of pregnancy and parturition: the violent . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Linda Boström Knausgaard

The Literary Saloon reports that a book by Linda Boström Knausgaard will soon be making its way to the English language. Yes, that name should look familiar to you.

In The Bookseller Anna James reports that Visser of De Geus launches English language publisher — which is to be called World Editions. (The current World Editions site doesn’t quite capture the English-language-publication version that’s coming.)

They kindly sent me ARCs of their forthcoming (in early 2015) first four volumes and it’s a promising start. The most notable title is Linda Boström Knausgård’s The Helios Disaster (see, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Some Thoughts on the Nobel as Institution

Jacobin has an interesting, if problematic take on the Nobel Prize in Literature as an institution. The thrust of it is that the Literature Prize as it currently stands is a golem-esque creation of transnational capitalism, serving its needs by highlighting those authors that play to the humanistic, liberal ideals (which everyone in Stockholm, and probably Europe, knows are universal). It does so by books that are fit for global consumption and that feed in to a very particular image of the author as a lone outsider, completely detached from any present political realities.

Okay, okay, there’s . . . continue reading, and add your comments

10:04 by Ben Lerner

After reading many, many translations, I am attempting to catch up with developments in mainstream American prose; i.e., the “big names” in American fiction. The last book I read in this vein was The Flamethrowers, which I liked to a point.

Now up, Ben Lerner’s new novel 10:04.

I view this book as a very ambitious failure. If we are to believe the backstory presented in the book itself—that it grew out of a story published in The New Yorker on June 18, 2012—then it was written extremely quickly, maybe in as little as a . . . continue reading, and add your comments