There’s a new issue of the Quarterly Conversation out. Not only does it have my review of David Foster Wallace: The Last Interview, it also contains Andrew Altschul on Wallace’s posthumous collection of nonfiction Both Flesh and Not, David Winters on Sam Lipsyte’s new story collection, and Dev Varma on Azareen van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel Fra Keeler. I included that last one because Varma is a friend and I enjoyed getting to type all of those letters. Enjoy!
Hello. There is much to link to today.
First, I am happy to report that an interview I conducted with novelist Sam Lipsyte is up and ready for reading over at the Quarterly Conversation. This interview is another particle in the overwhelming wave of positive press surrounding his latest novel, The Ask, which, as I’ve said before in this space, you should read ASAP. (For a more thorough convincing, please go here.) Lipsyte has also written the novels Homeland and The Subject Steve, as well as the short story collection Venus Drive, and he is much, much funnier than this blog post.
Also, I’m happy to report that the latest issue proper of the Quarterly Conversation is also up and ready. This issue contains: essays on Nobel laureate Herta Mueller, Jonathan Swift, and Per Petterson; 19 book reviews, including appraisals of William Gaddis, Jose Manuel Prieto, Gilbert Sorrentino, and Roberto Bolano (yes! who has published another novel; he’s the busiest dead man I know); and an interview with David Shields, author of Reality Hunger, which is also going through its own wave of review, interview, and internecine online appraisal.
Plus, among the other reviews and interviews, there is, finally, my review of Joey Comeau’s novel Overqualified, a book told through a collection of employment cover letters sent to various corporations. Fun fun.
Finally, finally, there are two news blogs worth mentioning: the first is The Constant Conversation, which is (as the name implies) the new blog arm (leg? elbow?) of the Quarterly Conversation and a sort of harmonious, collaborative voice of its editors. It’s only like a week old and already there are heated intellectual volleys occurring daily. Plus, there is the new Paper Trail, the latest book-specific blog from the fine people of Bookforum. This is in addition to their already excellent curatorial wonder Omnivore.
All of this means that you will never run out of stuff to read, and that you will never get any work done again, unless the power goes out. You’re welcome.
Christmas has officially come early, as the winter issue of the Quarterly Conversation is now up and so excited and running down the stairs in its pajama-clad feet.
In addition to my review of Sam Lipsyte’s latest novel The Ask, the issue is a stuffed-stocking of reviews and essays. It includes essays on Pynchon’s three California novels, Coetzee’s three post-Nobel autobiographical novels, and the fight/friendship/fictive-philosophical debate between William Gass and John Gardner, those two poles of postwar fiction whom we ideologically scrimmage in between whether we realize it or not.
What’s more, in addition to the standard slate of reviews, there is the epic Translate This Book! panel, where a huge roster of translators, writers, and publishers describe what contemporary works of literature have not yet been–but desperately need to be–translated into English.
See the whole splendid spread here.
Hello, hello, hello.
I am pleased to report that my review of Sam Lipsyte’s newest novel The Ask is now online at the Quarterly Conversation.
Please link right on over there and read it. However, if you are pressed for time now that we are in this Holiday Season, I offer you the abbreviated version of my review:
The Ask is a) awesome, b) a real thigh-slapper, and c) something you should buy right now, right now.
What’s more, it sustains the qualities present in Lipsyte’s last book, Homeland, which I remember buying at the Eliot Bay Book Co. probably around three years ago, while I was in Seattle on a business trip. I remember getting rained on during my long, long walk from my hotel downtown out to Pioneer Square, where the bookstore is located, and thinking that this was a very Seattle experience and that I should feel grateful. Homeland turned out to be one of those books that you start reading before you get off the property, it’s so good, and which I did down in the bookstore’s cafe basement, where I bought a complex brownie and a large coffee. It was all wonderfully warm and cozy.
As bonus, related content, here is a link to an article about that bookstore, which might be closing: The plot thickens for legendary bookstore. It’s from the L.A. Times.