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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: 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 Quarterly Conversation is an essay on Robert Walser centering around the recent books A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser and Her Not All Her by Elfriede Jelinek.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Perhaps an obvious choice given my “proustitute” moniker, and also that 2013 marked the one hundredth year birthday of Swann’s Way, the first volume, and prompting a group re-read for me. An impressive 1,500 people worldwide joined in for a year-long read of Proust’s seven-volume novel at Goodreads, and it’s my hope that the discussion board there—which enriched many of our reads and re-reads of his work with historical, aesthetic, visual, aural, biographical, and other topics—will serve as a framework for future readers of In Search of Lost Time for many years to come.

Jason Schwartz, John the Posthumous

A horrifying, heartbreaking, mindfuck of a book—a book unlike anything you will ever read. Schwartz has a unique stylistic approach that uses repetition, disorientation, and a kind of confessional alienation to map interior spaces’ topologies, causing rooms to speak, bringing colonial homes’ blueprints and the imagined people that populated their rooms to a bloody sort of life. Read my review of this brilliant, bewildering book in 3:AM Magazine: http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/begin-with-the-scars-at-the-bottom/

Herta Müller, The Appointment

Müller’s unnamed narrator journeys on a tram to make an appointment set for ten o’clock sharp; this is not the first time that she has been summoned, and, in Ceausescu’s Romania, there is no telling when the interrogations will cease or to whom she can turn. On her way, the narrator recounts her life under communism, where intimacy and betrayal, sex and power, and truth and lies inform the individual’s relationship to state, self, and other.

Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object

Love is perhaps one of the most hackneyed subjects, one to which writers turn again and again, often in redundant and cliched ways. Mosley, on the other hand, creates a fragmented world that overlaps another world: one that is interiorized and split, one that arches across multiple characters and yet which also causes them to be read as continuations of each other. An intriguing experiment in how a text can evade a definition or genre—is it a group of interrelated stories, or is it a novel?—Mosley covers the gamut of love’s narcissism, masochism, its highs, its lows, all with a minimal compression that encompasses all of humanity just as much as it focuses on two people in and out of time.

Claude Ollier, Disconnection

Perhaps slightly similar to Mosley’s Impossible Object, if only as it concerns two individuals whose stories are linked across temporal borders; however, Ollier’s searing consideration of war in Disconnection is a prescient and important book for our times, one that asks critical questions about complicity in the face of war. Here, there are three world wars: one that is remembered, one that is lived through in a “present” narrative during the Second World War, and another that is lived through in an overlapping “present” during the text’s own present. Does war and trauma link us across temporal and national borders? Disconnection is both a nightmare and a revelation.

Sam Michel, Strange Cowboy: Lincoln Dahl Turns Five

Michel’s prose is difficult to fully grasp: there is a rhythm here, but then the rhythm refuses the reader; it begins to morph and change, almost symphonically, and one must tread along, wandering where our narrator—Lincoln Dahl, senior (and junior to his own father)—journeys over the course of one ordinary day, but also an extraordinary one as it is the day his son turns five. A meditation on fatherhood, intimacy, guilt, and regret, Michel proves himself a master of style while rendering an age-old tale magical, bewitching, and at times perplexingly opulent with his desert prose.

Honorable Mentions:

Martín Adán’s The Cardboard House; Gerbrand Bakker’s The Detour; Philippe Claudel’s Brodeck; Pia Juul’s The Murder of Halland; J.M. Ledgard’s Submergence; Xavier de Maistre’s A Journey Around My Room; and Marie NDiaye’s All My Friends.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. 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...
  2. TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Greg Gerke We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Greg Gerke, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly...
  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. Favorite Reads of 2010: Correction by Thomas Bernhard Thomas Bernhard does a strange kind of realism. His books tend to be extremely intense character studies of 2 - 3 people, yet they are...
  5. 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...

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