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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.


  • A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Andrea Scrima

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Andrea Scrima, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is an essay on Seiobo There Below by Laszlo Krasznahorkai.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Herta Müller, Niederungen (Nadirs)

As she attempts to make sense of the brutal reality around her, a child narrator escapes the claustrophobia of village life and its everyday cruelties to inhabit the lyrical dimensions of her own imagination. The poetic force of Nobel laureate Herta Müller’s language was already apparent in Nadirs, her first published work describing the lives of the German-speaking Banat Swabians in the hopelessness and dread of communist Romania. Following years of struggle with censors under Ceaucescu’s dictatorship, an uncensored version was finally smuggled to the West, where it found instant acclaim. The original uncut version was published for the first time in 2010.

Lydia Davis, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis has a peculiar genius for dissecting metaphysical quandaries into distinct slices of sober language that twinkle with wry humor. As with Müller and the Nobel Prize, the fact that Davis won this year’s Man Booker is enough to make me believe in just rewards in literature again. Like a brain tonic, Davis’s pared-down language purifies the mind of excess verbiage. Her observations are sly and ruthless, her sentences deeply satisfying. No one can ever read enough of Lydia Davis, which is why I recommend reading everything, all of it, and as often as possible.

László Krasznahorkai, Seiobo There Below

I’ve struck it lucky this year: two of my more remarkable reading experiences were books I was invited to review. Seiobo There Below is a colossal work that stands on its own, seemingly outside of time. Otherwise known for his dark, apocalyptic visions, Krasznahorkai has pushed himself to the limits of the imagination in this extraordinary study on the nature of the sacred in art and civilization. As the protagonists of these short works of incantatory prose search for a higher meaning in art, they stumble over a luminous immanence they can barely countenance. You can read my recent review of Seiobo There Below in issue 33 of The Quarterly Conversation.

Einar Schleef Tagebuch 1981–1998

I’m including someone in my list who has not yet been translated into English: Einar Schleef, the brilliant East German dramatist, writer, painter, set designer, and actor. Elfriede Jelinek called him one of the two greatest minds Germany produced in the post-war period; the other was Fassbinder. Reading his journals from 1981 to 1998 brings back the somewhat surreal years in West Berlin leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall—and reveals a mind that perceived far beyond history to the mythological and tragic in the human condition. I am hoping these words will implant themselves in someone’s mind: read Einar Schleef and translate him as soon as possible.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: David Winters We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from David Winters, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly...
  2. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: K. Thomas Kahn We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from K. Thomas Kahn, whose most recent contribution to The...
  3. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Dan Green We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Dan Green, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly...
  4. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Jeff Bursey We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Jeff Bursey, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly...
  5. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Steve Donoghue We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Steve Donoghue, whose most recent contributions to The Quarterly...

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