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 Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Sergio De La Pava, Interviewed

Good stuff.

CJ: So what about a book like Wittgenstein’s Mistress? Do you think that approaches reaching too far with a single tool, or do you think that it works for the subject matter?

SP: I found that book to be perfectly realized. The funny part is, the works that followed, they seemed to essentially try to exploit the same tool kit, and I didn’t find them as successful. I think that what makes Markson successful with WM and the others less so, to just me as a reader, not as a critic, is where the mistress departs from allegory. Where you start to feel that this could be true. That what this woman is experiencing could be the truth, in a way that those other novels never gave you. There’s that bizarre blending of, sure, it could be the ravings of a lunatic, but i don’t think the novel cheats in that way, to tell you that they are the ravings of a lunatic. I think you could read that book in a way that you can just accept that what Kate is telling you is an accurate portrait of what has occurred, and because the novel works that way, to me that is what makes it powerful. Whereas with Readers Block and This Is Not a Novel, it never felt that way, I felt an intrusion at the end. To me they just didn’t work. And it may just be, that when I read WM it felt really innovative and new, and it’s hard to capture that when you pick up the next book and sense that, ‘here come these little aphoristic-type declarations about artists’, and you’re already familiar with it in such a way that you can never fire those neurons again.

CJ: Right. So in one part of Personae, you choose the same scene:

SP: Wait a minute. No that’s not it, the octogenarian is the writer. It has italics under the chapter number I think, so I think we are lead to believe that Helen created that title for that particular document, or whoever did. But that is why is it called Personae, each part is not the ocean. The ocean is the actual work. And that moment is just probably a 55-year old professor or something, impulsively deciding to stop at the beach. I’m not sure if the beach stuff was a reference to Markson, I mean a beach and an ocean? I don’t think there’s any way that he could have patented that.

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More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Personae by Sergio De La Pava Today’s the release day for Personae by Sergio De La Pava, author of A Naked Singularity. I’ll have a review of this eventually in the...
  2. Excerpt from Personae by Sergio De La Pava I'm told that Sergio De La Pava's new novel, Personae, will soon be going up on Amazon. You can currently get it at Xlibris. (If...
  3. Sergio de la Pava Interview Over at their slick new redesigned website, Hermano Cerdo has interviewed Sergio de la Pava, well-known to readers of this site (for more see here...
  4. Sergio De La Pava Wins a PEN Wow. Sergio De La Pava wins PEN’s 2013 first novel award, good for $25,000. This amazing story keeps getting more and more amazing. ...
  5. You Need Another Reason to Love Sergio De La Pava? Here’s one. TN: Franzen wrote an essay describing the reader-writer relationship as either Status based or a Contract model, emphasizing the decision to either err...

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