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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com
  • Marcos Giralt TorrenteMarcos Giralt Torrente

    My piece covering two new translations of books by Marcos Giralt Torrente—Paris and Father and Son: A Lifetime—has just... »
  • A Little Lumpen NovelitaA Little Lumpen Novelita

    The latest Bolaño, reviewed at M&L. In one of the monologues that make up the long middle section of Roberto... »
  • ePoetryePoetry

    I don't really think poetry written for print works in the electronic format. You can make an argument that there isn't a whole... »
  • Issue 37 of The Quarterly ConversationIssue 37 of The Quarterly Conversation

    Here it is. If you're the kind that doesn't like to just jump into things, full TOC after the... »
  • The Translation BestsellerThe Translation Bestseller

    I wonder if, given the minuscule amount of translated books published each year, but the relative regularity of a bestseller... »
  • Future LibraryFuture Library

    Cool idea. Edouard Levé would have been a fantastic participant. A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka,... »
  • Juan Jose SaerJuan Jose Saer

    You all should really be reading Juan Jose Saer (if you're not already). His books have a very particular feel . . . I could... »
  • In the ArchipelagoIn the Archipelago

    Jill Schoolman, interviewed at BOMB. Hope everybody reading this in the Bay Area will come out to the event with Scholastique... »
  • How They ThinkHow They Think

    Okay, I know it's wrong to respond to clickbait, but—the thing that pisses me off about this is that it's somehow a... »
  • FlamethrowersFlamethrowers

    It's kind of amazing that the NYRB published Frederick Seidel's lazy review of The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, one of last... »

You Say

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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 3

Last Samurai-ers–you know what to do.

And here’s a thought that occurred to me from last week’s section. During Yamamoto’s interview from last week’s section, he mentions how the African community whose music he tried to listen to “would play a piece of music with six of seven rhythms all at once.” [166] That seems to be a dead-on reference to Seven Samurai, how the film is spinning out seven (or eight, or nine) different rhythms all in counterpoint to each other.

Or you could look at it in terms of the multiple narratives DeWitt is overlaying here.

And of course, that’s just a couple of the ways this could be applied to the book.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 2 Here's the spot for any extra-textual matter you've seen referenced in pages 85 - 186 of The Last Samurai and want to share with everyone....
  2. The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 1 I'll have some initial thoughts later in the week, but I thought I'd try something new that we didn't do with the Your Face Tomorrow...
  3. The Samurai Begins Next Week Remember, the fall group read of The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt begins next week. Schedule + info on what the book is and why...
  4. The Last Samurai: The Author as Woman Inevitably, we've already had a couple of references to Helen DeWitt's gender in the comments to the first week of The Last Samurai discussion, so...
  5. The Last Samurai: The Burden of Genius For instance, the section starts out with the piano-playing dreams of the narrator's mother (and I like how each of our sections has begun by...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

4 comments to The Last Samurai References and Annotations Thread: Week 3

  • tom

    An annotation.

    I have noted another small tidbit that, along with so many others, makes this novel so rewarding. There are quite a few indications on the weather in London, but there are two that are, perhaps, most significant than all the rest.

    The first one occurs almost at the end of the first section, a few pages before the interlude. In my edition, on page 70:

    “The wind is howling. A cold rain is falling. The brown paper window pane is flapping in the fierce rain and wind.”

    I wouldn’t want to read too much into this kick off of the final part of the first section. It made me think of “All Along the Watchtower” but that’s probably nothing but a personal, or maybe generational association.

    But then along comes something else, a repetition of sorts, that all but demands to be “read” if by reading we mean coming up with something to say about something that “strikes” us, retains our attention, stops the forward progress of reading for plot: something silly, unusual, vaguely significant at first but resistant to meaning. It’s located in chapter 7 of the second section. Chapter 7 is entitled “The End of the Line.” Sib is getting things ready for Ludo’s birthday, and indeed many things are coming to a close here, especially a lot of tension, anger and frustration all along the Circle Line:

    “A soft rain is falling. The brown paper window pane is fluttering in the air.”

    You can’t help but feel a bridge springing up between this two indications about the weather and the atmosphere inside. Kurosawa is famous for his “wipes”: weather patterns as reflections of characters’ moods. In the space of a hundred pages, Sib seems calmer, more confident than during the rain and wind “atmosphere” of the first section, where more often than not the general feeling was that she was in over her head. The brown paper window pane puts her in the same socio-economic straits (down and out, with a lot of despair to handle) as the farmers in The Seven Samurai. But now at least, it’s no longer flapping but fluttering. Fluttering is more peaceful than flapping, or at the very least more like hovering or hanging in suspense than the flapping which makes you worry that the whole thing is going to come undone.

    David Foster Wallace does something like this, collapsing the two moments into one, with his use of “billowing” in Infinite Jest.

    I was born in the windy city. Maybe that’s why I’m making a mountain out of this mole hill!

    Prose is sometimes so close to poetry as to be indistinguishable from it. I think this is one of those times. It makes you wonder how many times this sort of thing comes off, in other novels, as well as it does in this one.

  • Coming in late this week, but I wanted to note the somewhat amazing fact that The Eskimo Book of Knowledge (p. 242 and following) is a real book by George Binney, published by Hudson’s Bay Company in 1931. On Google Books, you can read an excerpt from the book’s introduction and some historical context for the publication.

    While searching for that, I discovered that someone has put together another annotation of references in this novel:
    http://www.authortrek.com/helen_dewitt_page.html

  • Geoff

    I am not sure that I correctly understood the Eskimo Book of Knowledge passage. What I read, perhaps mistakenly, was that the young boy is heroically about to obtain help from the Eskimo for the injured trapper, furthered by his few words of Inuit. But ironically having learnt words by rote from “The Eskimo Book of Knowledge” and without understanding their meaning or impact ends up insulting the potential saviours with tragic result. An example of learning a language but not communicating?

    Is this how other readers took this passage?

  • Geoff, I read that passage as Ludo’s imagining of how it would go if he (or anyone) actually tried to communicate with the Inuit based on the not-so-helpful phrases provided in the book.

    So, basically how you read it, except that the boy and the injured man don’t really exist in the world of the novel, they are just characters Ludo is imagining as he tries to learn yet another language that may help him when his world traveler father takes him along on his journeys.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>