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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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 […]

Strange eBay Listings

From the LRB’s history of eBay:

The site has made the headlines most often for the wacky merchandise
that has been sold or listed over the years. The most famous instance
is probably the ten-year-old toasted cheese sandwich bearing the image
of the Virgin Mary that went for $28,000 in November 2004. In March
this year, two sisters from Virginia sold a cornflake shaped like the
state of Illinois for $1350. It was removed at first, since foodstuffs
have to be sold in sealed containers with best-before dates, but the
sisters got round that restriction by selling a voucher for the thing
instead. In May, a jealous husband from Bletchley put his wife up for
sale. He began the auction at a penny, but bids surpassed half a
million pounds before eBay removed the listing. A CD of the ‘income-tax
returns for 2005 of the entire Italian people’, which had been briefly
posted online by the tax authorities, was removed after a few hours.
Cohen mentions the ‘fully functional kidney’ that was listed on 26
August 1999, and shut down as a hoax eight days later, with bidding at
$5.7 million. In July 1999, bidding for a ‘young man’s virginity’
reached $10 million before it was pulled. Shipments of cocaine, votes
and souls have also often been listed. In 2001, the artist Keith
Obadike put his blackness up for sale (the description is reproduced in
Everyday eBay): ‘This heirloom has been in the possession of the seller for 28 years.’

They might have added book and conceptual artist Robert The’s listing for "the present moment," which went for $13.81.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Rain Taxi Auction Once again Rain Taxi is auctioning off cool, lit-lover collector’s items on eBay. Check it out. That Paul Auster signed chapbook you buy is money...
  2. Book Sales Up, Overall Share of "Entertainment Pie" Shrinking Take this as you will. Newly released numbers from Nielsen Entertainment present a mixed picture for books: a robust year, so far, with the industry...
  3. Rain Taxi Rain Taxi Review of Books is having a charity auction with lots of great items from the likes of Paul Auster, John Ashbery, Steven Dixon,...
  4. E-book 2.0 The Boston Globe says the e-book has finally arrived. No, really. Really. Well, anyway, Project Gutenberg is behind it with 300,000 free books, available starting...
  5. Papers The Sunday Times reports on the insidious work of American universities. ANDREW MOTION, the poet laureate, and Lord Smith, the former culture secretary, have launched...

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2 comments to Strange eBay Listings

  • KM

    I saw a two-headed cow on eBay recently and also a taxidermied frog with fangs.

  • THIS ROCK SEEMS TO BRING GOOD LUCK TO ALL WHO HOLD IT
    FOUND IN RIVER AS IS
    THIS ROCK IS THE STRANGEST ROCK I HAVE EVER FOUND
    IT APPEARS TO LOOK LIKE A
    #1 ON ONE SIDE
    THEN TURN IT OVER AND A SEA HORSE OR HORSE APPEARS
    EVERYONE THAT SEES THIS ROCK SEES SOMETHING NEW AND DIFFERENT.

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