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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 Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

Reading Resolutions 2009: Javier Moreno

(Javier Moreno last wrote on the work of Rodrigo Fresan for The Quarterly Conversation.)

See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here.

I think it is time for me to systematically read William T. Vollman. I’ve been postponing this for way too long. I loved his "Three Meditations on Death" but I’ve never gone beyond that lovely essay (besides some short pieces found here and there). My self-Christmas present last December, thus, included The Rainbow Stories and Rising Up and Rising Down (the abridged version, of course). Yesterday, I read the introduction of the later and it made me recall the pleasure and excitement of reading the "Three Meditations" the first time. After these two I will probably read The Royal Family and Europe Central, and The Atlas, perhaps, if time permits.

Since September I’m living in Lyon, and although my knowledge of French is still quite rudimentary, I’m trying to improve it by reading stuff. French contemporary literature, unfortunately, doesn’t interest me much (One of my last year’s big deceptions was Littel’s Les Bienveillantes. The Spanish translation ("Las Benévolas") was dull and disrespectfully long and dull again) but I’ve noticed that France’s range of graphic novels is amazingly rich. After visiting a few bookstores and libraries I’ve concluded that if anything interesting is happening (excluding Nothomb and Houllebecq) in French lit culture it is happening in a neighborhood of those beautifully edited sixty-something page volumes with double and triple authors, and as far away as possible from the Goncourt prize and the traditional and absurd "rentrée litteraire" (which more or less forces any release to be done in August. In 2008 around 700 novels were released (puked) during that month in France; most, naturally, got lost.) This is the reason I plan to read the more or less classic steampunk series Les Cités Obscures, by Schuiten and Peeters; the surreal (I already started) Le Roi des Mouches, by Mezzo and Pirus, and the vague series of books by Tardi on the First World War.

I’ll also give a chance to Texaco, by Patrick Chamoiseau; this only because I read Junot Díaz somewhere saying that it was an awesome novel.

In Spanish I plan to read some of the novels by the Mexican Alvaro Enrigue. A friend told me this guy is pretty smart. I’m particularly interested in his Vidas Perpendiculares and La Muerte de un Instalador.

After reading some reviews from people I trust, I expect great things of Alberto Olmos’s El Talento de los Demás.

I should also read more stuff by Sergio Pitol. El Mago de Viena and Juegos Florales look interesting, for instance.

Finally, I’ll try to get through Era el Cielo (a guy watches his wife being raped and does nothing to stop it) and La Realidad (an Islamic terrorist cell takes control of a reality TV series) by the Argentinean Sergio Bizzio. I heard they will be published in Spain by Caballo de Troya early this year.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Reading Resolutions 2009: Barrett Hathcock (Barrett  Hathcock is a contributing editor to The Quarterly Conversation. He most recently discussed his creative writing vis a vis his work writing as part...
  2. Reading Resolutions 2009: Levi Stahl (Levi Stahl most recently reviewed The Romantic Dogs by Roberto Bolano for The Quarterly Conversation.) See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here. My reading pattern...
  3. Reading Resolutions 2009: Sacha Arnold (Sacha Arnold is a senior editor of The Quarterly Conversation. His most recent piece was on the novelist Carter Scholz.) See all of TQC’s Reading...
  4. Reading Resolutions 2009: Lauren Elkin (Lauren Elkin most recently wrote for The Quarterly Conversation on the French artist and writer Claude Cahun.) See all of TQC’s Reading Resolutions here. First...
  5. Reading Resolutions 2009: John Lingan (John Lingan is a frequent contributor to The Quarterly Conversation. In the Winter issue, he reconsidered William Gaddis’s novels The Recognitions and J R through...

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