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.


  • 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 […]

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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