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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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You Say

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  • S: This outpouring has been pretty wide-spread indeed. To be ho
  • Will: Salman rushdie is a microscopic crapule on the asshole of th
  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
  • Paul: Vanessa Place's 'La Medusa' seems like an American authored
  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b

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

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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: Daniel Medin

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Daniel Medin, who is Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

1. Dodge Rose by Jack Cox (forthcoming, Dalkey Archive)

The most singular work of fiction written in English that I encountered this year. Difficult to summarize what it does in so little space, though in addition to being a Great Australian Novel–in less than 200 pages–Dodge Rose is a funny and profound take on the legal language of property and ownership. For a sense of what Cox manages on a smaller scale, seek out his story “The Fisherman” in issue 6 of The White Review. You can even sample Dodge Rose in a recently published volume of The Review of Contemporary Fiction devoted to new writers. It may take a while for the entire book to appear, but remember this young author’s name: Cox is a brilliant and utterly original novelist, renewing the labors of Beckett and Joyce in exhilarating ways.

2. The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pie by Eugene Ostashevsky; E.O. portfolio for issue 81 of Schreibheft; An Invitation for Me to Think by Alexander Vvedensky (translated by E.O.); and poems by Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (trans. by E.O. and Bela Sheyavich) in issue 2 of The American Reader.

Ostashevsky is the rightful heir of the wonderful OBERIU writers. I’m terribly fond of his poetry–and behind it, his sensibility and witz–and will read everything he deems fit to print, translations included. (“The Conversation of the Hours” by Vvedensky was, by itself, a highlight of 2013′s readings.)

3. Teaching is a privilege for numerous reasons, among them its opportunities to study beloved authors in the company of fresh readers. Last spring I revisited two of my favorite novels, Sentimental Education and Bouvard and Pécuchet for a course on Gustave Flaubert. These hours were richly rewarded, as were those devoted to Three Stories, the Correspondence, and two very different biographies: the elegant and largely synthetical Life by Frederick Brown; and Pierre-Marc de Biasi‘s often fascinating work of genetic criticism. The latter’s occasional abuses of scholarship (e.g. tallying the number of times Flaubert refers to a horse in his books, or the total hours he spent on horseback during a visit to Africa) are easily offset by insights generated by De Biasi’s careful examination of the manuscripts. De Biasi also demonstrates convincingly that the most famous line attributed to Flaubert–Madame Bovary, c’est moi–is in all likelihood apocryphal.

4. The Zibaldone by Giacomo Leopardi (edited by Michael Caesar and Franco D’Intino and rendered into English by seven translators)

I’ve not read this from cover to cover, and may, in fact, never make it through every sentence of the work. But I’ll own this book longer than most of the titles that came into my possession in 2013. And the parts I have been through–several on repeated occasions–rank Leopardi, in both his vision and sensitivity to human suffering, alongside Schopenhauer, Beckett and Bernhard.

5. I’ve focused mainly on titles that aren’t eligible for the Best Translated Book Award, since I’ve had the opportunity to write about those elsewhere. But it would feel amiss to omit Hilda Hilst’s Letters from a Seducer (trans. John Keene), Faris al-Shidyaq’s Leg over Leg (trans. Humphrey Davies), Hella S. Haasse’s The Black Lake (trans. Ina Rilke), and–especially–László Krasznahorkai’s Seiobo There Below (trans. Ottilie Mulzet) from any discussion of resonant readings.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. 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...
  2. TQC Favorites of 2012: Daniel Medin Daniel Medin is the Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation. Novels 1. László Krasznahorkai: Satantango (New Directions) I love Krasznahorkai’s dark discerning humor, and was...
  3. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Colin Marshall We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Colin Marshall, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly...
  4. Welcome QC Editor Daniel Medin Issue 26 of The Quarterly Conversation, which we just published on Monday, is the first to have contributions from our latest editor, Daniel Medin. (That’s...
  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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