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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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.


  • 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 […]

Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente

A reminder to read this remarkably good first novel. Reviewed at Tony’s Reading List.

Singular Pleasures

I owned this book for quite a while before I noticed this,

Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe

So translator Chris Andrews wrote a book on Bolaño: Roberto Bolaño’s Fiction: An Expanding Universe. I’m pretty excited for this one. Andrews is one smart guy, and he’s a fantastic translator who has been extremely close to a number to Bolaño’s best novels.

Publishers Weekly gave this book a starred review.

This is how I first came across this book. An amazing list of the murders recounted in “The Part About the Crimes” from 2666 and their real-life analogues.

And here’s Andrews discussing Bolaño and Aira at The Quarterly . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Chejfec, Aira in Asymptote

New issue of Asymptote, with some intriguing pieces by Cesar Aira and Sergio Chejfec.

In Aira’s piece, the Argentine pays praise to his literary father, Osvando Lamborghini:

The first publication of Osvaldo Lamborghini (Buenos Aires 1940 – Barcelona 1985), shortly after his thirtieth birthday, was El fiord; it appeared in 1969, but had been written several years before. It was a thin book, and for a long time it was sold in a single bookstore in Buenos Aires via the discreet method of asking for it from the salesperson. Though it was never republished, it traveled over . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Oil on Water

David Auerbach makes an intriguing case for the novel Oil on Water by the Nigerian writer Helon Habila.

What transported me most in Oil on Water was the chronology. Our intrepid but callow reporter Rufus heads into the Niger Delta with a very flawed father-figure, Zaq, originally intending to meet up with some rebel guerrillas (under the leadership of the shadowy “Professor”) to negotiate for the return of a hostage. The hostage, Isabelle Floode, is the wife of a bigshot oil executive, and thus seemingly a pawn in the fight between the rebels and the Nigerian . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Last Stories and Other Stories

The New York Times and I agree, Vollmann’s latest book is not very good.

I feel like, recently, Vollmann’s been a lot better at nonfiction than fiction. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the next installment of his “Seven Dreams” series, in theory publishing next year.

25 Novels on Failure

A cool list by Janice Lee at Entropy mag.

Might the novel, as a form, signal a sort of failure inherent in its own slightly paradoxical but insistent existence? There is something that a novel, often in its ability to pause, or in its longness or sheer density, can achieve that other forms cannot. But in the ambition to get at something so indescribable that the mere attempt requires an entire novel to represent the attempt at its description, this is a failure in itself, the epic as a sort of fabrication or proportional importance to conduct . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Sense of an Ending

I can’t recall where I first heard about Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending, but I’m glad I finally picked up my copy off the shelf and read it. Yes, this is a book with a few longueurs, but forget about that: for the great majority of the time, my God, this man is on fire.

Basically, this is Kermode’s book-length inquiry into why the novel as a form requires an ending (or perhaps a “sense of an ending”). And it’s actually a very good question. Poems and criticism (to name two genres of writing) don’t . . . continue reading, and add your comments

On Norman Rush’s Greatness

Interesting essay at The Point on Subtle Bodies, the latest Norman Rush novel.

I get where Charles Finch is coming from (Mortals was a bit of a slog in places), and I agree with what he’s saying—Rush’s observations are awesome—but I have to put in one big caveat. Mating was as riveting as they come.

On those first and third levels of the art of the novel, Rush is only an equivocal and intermittent master. Passages of his books, particularly Mortals, are beautifully plotted, but none of them could be called compulsive from . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Bill

Nice review here of Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s The Bill, which has been published in a stand-alone chapbook edition by Sylph Editions.

Apart from being much shorter than most of his other works (including the under-40 page Animalinside [2010], another Sylph Editions production, with artwork by Max Neumann), The Bill appears lighter in mood than his other works. It addresses the creation of art works by the sixteenth-century Venetian painter Palma Vecchio (c. 1480-1528; he is also known as Iacopo Negretti), four of which are reproduced in part, with wry humour and suspicion, in one long sentence that, . . . continue reading, and add your comments