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.

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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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Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

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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.

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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

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
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  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
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  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Yet Another Crisis

You really have to have more imagination than to go to a crotchety old dude like Eliot Weinberger if you want to know what the state of literary criticism in the U.S. is. I don’t mean to dig Weinberger—he’s an awesome translator and was a great critic—but most available evidence suggests that he’s at the “everything once good has turned bad” point in his career.

The United States does not have the kinds of literary supplements that are common in Spain and many other countries. It has only one important frequent periodical of criticism—The New York Review of Books. There are no longer powerful American critics, as there were until the 1960s, writing in a prose that was intelligible to anyone, and inserting literature into the political, social, and moral issues of the day. So-called “serious” criticism has largely become the domain of academics, who write in a specialized jargon, under the bizarre belief that complex thought can only be presented in impenetrable sentences… Criticism, in the United States, has been reduced to “recommendations,” which come via reviews, blogs, and Twitter. Prizes have become the standard validation of literary merit- especially among those who are unaware how prizes are chosen. I can’t think of a single American critic to whom one now turns for ideas…

Except for insulting Internet culture, this reads like something that was probably in-date at some point in the 1980s. Academia has long been Bastilled, there are plenty of “powerful” critics writing for a popular audience (Tim Parks, Ruth Franklin, Daniel Mendelsohn, Adam Kirsch, Adam Thirlwell, James Wood, Geoff Dyer, etc.), and of course there are other “frequent periodicals of criticism” much more interesting than the NYRB.

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  1. Deconstructing Literary Prizes 3. The irony of this position is that most of the soi disant ‘serious readers’, who apparently number no more than 4,000 in the United...
  2. Prizes A good essay by Louis Menand on literary prizes. When the first Nobel Prize in Literature went to Sully Prudhomme, in 1901, the choice was...
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2 comments to Yet Another Crisis

  • Eliot Weinberger

    Thanks, Scott! But I was describing the situation, not complaining about it. (And these sentences are excerpted from a longer statement.)

    This was written for El País in Spain. European and Latin American countries have lots of serious weekly/biweekly cultural/literary supplements and magazines. The USA has only one that is similar– the NYRB– regardless of what one thinks about it. (The NYTBR hardly qualifies as serious; magazines like The Nation and the New Republic are, of course, not devoted largely to culture.)

    I wrote “American” critics. More than half of those you name are Brits (though often appearing in US publications). Whatever their worth, none of them have the kind of “power” once held by Edmund Wilson, Alfred Kazin, Lionel Trilling, et al., and none of them are discussing literature in a larger social/political context. Whether this is good or bad is another topic– again, I was merely describing.

    Far from “insulting internet culture,” I have, from the beginning, promoted the internet as a vehicle for literature, especially poetry. In 1994, I was more or less laughed off the stage of the “Revolution” conference at St. Mark’s Church for saying that, in the future, the internet was going to be a tremendously powerful political force.

    In literary matters, it is completely untrue that I believe that “everything once good has turned bad.” In the world outside of literature, it seems safe to say that everything once bad has turned worse.

  • l

    Scott-
    I’m interested in your comment that “and of course there are other “frequent periodicals of criticism” much more interesting than the NYRB.” Would you mind providing a list? I am always looking for additional book criticism recommendations.

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