Very interesting article in the New York Review about Google. I did not know this . . ." />

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.

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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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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.

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Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

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Tale of Genji

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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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 […]

That Other Internet Behemoth

Very interesting article in the New York Review about Google. I did not know this:

In 2008 the advertising on Google’s search engine was responsible for 98 percent of the company’s $22 billion in revenue, and while Google refuses to provide more recent percentages, the company’s 2009 revenue of $23.6 billion suggests that little has changed.

So basically, the biggest, most dominant, most terrifying company to come out of the newest medium since books makes all its money off advertising. If I were the owner of a newspaper, I’d take notice of this. Effective ads, and not pay-walls, is the future of the Internet.

And as to that ad technology, Google essentially stole it:

Back in the early 2000s, though, another company, Overture, which was far more focused than Google on making money online, had already developed such a system. Google copied much of the system from Overture in 2001; Overture sued Google in 2002; and Overture was itself bought by Yahoo in 2003. Yahoo settled the lawsuit against Google out of court for $275 million in 2004, and the system, modified over time, still provides the vast majority of Google’s billions of dollars in revenues.

Also interesting to see that Yahoo had the chance to be Google, but declined, thinking it would be better off being Yahoo. When Google tried to sell its superior search technology to Google,

[The Yahoo founders] were impressed with [Google’s] search engine. Very impressed, actually; their concern was that it was too good…. The more relevant the results of a search were, the fewer [pages] users would experience before leaving Yahoo. Instead of ten pages, they might see just a couple, and that would deflate the number of page views Yahoo sold advertisers.

And users soon decamped from Yahoo to Google for the better search technology. D’oh! Although this is a nice story for those of us who choose to focus on quality over pageviews.

Also some interesting points about where Google stands on net neutrality. This should frighten a lot of people:

More importantly, the iPhone, the iPad, as well as the whole gamut of mobile devices that run Google’s own Android operating system, have led many users to access the Internet through wireless devices rather than through cable or phone lines. It is not hard to imagine a future in which many users give up their home Internet connections—much as many have abandoned their “land line” telephones—and gain online access exclusively through wireless devices. But Google, in its joint statement with Verizon, dropped its support for net neutrality for wireless devices. Instead of insisting that the rapid expansion of wireless Internet access should make net neutrality all the more essential, Google executives claimed, in corporate-speak, that the “nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace” would make the application of the principle of net neutrality premature.

And the things I’m hearing out of the FCC on net neutrality do not suggest that it will push back against this sort of behavior. If this keeps up, it seems likely that the Internet will go the way of film and radio–media that started out more or less democratic and practiced by extremely large groups but that eventually became dominated by a few major players.

And then there’s this:

In addition, these personalized ads will become more pervasive, allowing advertisers to coordinate campaigns across a single user’s computer, e-reader, and cell phone, as well as the many other devices that are now being built with wireless connections, such as radios, TVs, watches, and cars. With the help of a highly efficient data clearinghouse, marketers will be able to update these campaigns instantaneously, based on such factors as the sites that we visit, the searches we make, and the places we go.

The ability to target a tightly knit group, such as a circle of friends or a family, has been of particular interest to marketers. Irwin Gotlieb, the CEO of GroupM, the largest advertising agency in the world, relates one example to Auletta: “Take disposable diapers. Should you just market to pregnant women? I would argue that maybe the grandmother has significant influence.” Thus if a daughter-in-law becomes pregnant and searches on Google for baby blogs, or looks at strollers on Amazon, the grandmother-to-be—whose relationship to her daughter-in-law could be discovered through Facebook, or perhaps through the social networking service Google is reported to be working on—may begin to notice a remarkable increase in diaper ads not only on the websites she visits but also, as more and more devices become tied together through wireless connections, over her radio, on her television, possibly on her toaster, and certainly on her cell phone, which, following another of Gotlieb’s suggestions, might start flashing with coupons for diapers when, through the phone’s location features, a marketer is made aware that she has walked into a supermarket or drugstore. It’s not hard to imagine a future in which an ill-informed grandmother-to-be might suspect that there will be a new addition to the family, simply by observing changes among the ads she’s served up hour by hour and day by day.

For more on this subject, check out Ken Auletta’s recent book, Googled, on which much of this article is based.

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  1. Redefining Fair Use At the Newspaper Association of America conference in San Diego, Google and the AP wrangle over how news can be re-used: “I was surprised that...
  2. More News on Google The Millions has a summary of the issues surrounding the recent conclusion to the Google/copyright court battle. It now seems that Google will become a...
  3. The Internet and Your Ability to Read Okay all you people who think the Internet is turning you into attention-deficit twitchers (in which case, why the hell are you reading this?! save...
  4. The Internet Is Still Rotting Your Brain Though I remain steadfast in my belief that a lot of talk about what the Internet is doing to your brain is alarmist and will...
  5. Google Gives Libraries Price Oversight NYT: In a move that could blunt some of the criticism of Google for its settlement of a lawsuit over its book-scanning project, the company...

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