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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: 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 Conversation is a Long Essay on the novelist James Purdy.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Lightning Rods, by Helen DeWitt

DeWitt’s ostensibly satirical novel about a man who starts up a service for oversexed company men (he hires women to take care of these men’s needs on the job) complicates its satirical take on the marketization of everything by locating us so firmly in the protagonist’s worldview that we are almost able to accept his actions as well-intentioned. The novel is finally perhaps as much a satire of fiction’s alleged capacity to let us “inhabit” human consciousness as of American corporate culture.

Those Whom I Would Like to Meet Again, by Giedra Radvilaviciute

A collection of pieces by the Lithuanian Radvilaviciute that blurs the distinction between fiction and nonfiction (“story” and “essay”) in both a provocative and entertaining way.

Middle C, by William H. Gass

One of America’s greatest living writers continues to create beautiful prose well into his 80s. For those who think of Gass as a “difficult” writer, this novel is fully accessible, although lurking behind its story of a fraudulent music professor is a more intricate narrative patterning linking fiction and music.

Repetition, by Peter Handke

I have been reading/re-reading Handke’s body of work, and Repetition is one of his novels with which I was previously (and inexplicably) unfamiliar. It turns out to be one of his best, telling the story of its protagonist’s attempt to recover the traces of a brother who disappeared many years prior.

Jesus Coyote, by Harold Jaffe

I have also been reading through Harold Jaffe’s body of work. By and large, his best work is in short fiction, but this is arguably Jaffe’s most compelling novel, recounting the story of the Manson family, through the thinly fictionalized figure of “Jesus Coyote.”

A, by Louis Zukofsky

I am still reading this massive and influential book-length poem, although one of the ways in which it has been influential clearly is in shifting attention away from the “poem” as a self-enclosed aesthetic object to “poetry” as a more dispersed and open-ended kind of literary “work.” It has the reputation of being formidably dense, but I am finding it surprisingly engaging.

The Facades, by Eric Lundgren and They Dragged Them Through the Streets, by Hillary Plum

Two intelligent and well-written debut novels. The first tells a quasi-futuristic story of an inhabitant of a decaying Midwestern city trying to understand his wife’s disappearance. The second focuses on a group of characters coping with the aftereffects of the Iraq War by becoming domestic terrorists of a sort.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Favorite Reads of 2011: The Blood Oranges by John Hawkes How to explain the relative neglect of John Hawkes, beloved by both Leslie Fiedler and William H. Gass? His prose style is simply unmistakable, his...
  2. Favorite Reads of the Year (1) I'm determined to run down my favorite reads of 2009 on this blog, but I think it might take a few posts. So this is...
  3. Favorite Reads of 2010: Prose by Thomas Bernhard If you come to my house and look at my bookshelves, you can very quickly and easily distinguish the gods from the demigods and lesser...
  4. Favorite Reads of 2011: The Sleepwalker by Margarita Karapanou Earlier this year I exhorted everyone to read Margarita Karapanou. And now I’m doing it again. The Sleepwalker is an amazing little book, certainly one...
  5. Jesus Coyote by Harold Jaffe While reading the capsule reviews in the RCF, this one caught my eye. Sounds interesting: Beginning with a pair of lurid Tate/LaBianca massacre headlines, mining...

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