I have now read Lady Chatterley's Brother, the initial offering in a new series of e-books to be published by The Quarterly Conversation. The series is called "TQC Long Essays," and this first publication is actually two long essays, one by Barrett Hathcock on Nicholson Baker's House of Holes and one by series editor Scott Esposito on Javier Marias, each addressing the common theme of the depiction of sex and sexuality in fiction. This is a terrific concept in e-publishing (every volume will apparently be around 70 pages, as Scott says, "way too much for your average webpage, not quite enough for a printed book"), and I look forward to the subsequent releases.
Hathcock's essay on Baker is pretty harsh on both House of Holes and the portrayal of sex in contemporary fiction. There are assumptions in his dismissal of this novel and of the fitness of sex as a subject in fiction with which I cannot agree, but I hope to return to his analysis in a review of my own of House of Holes that I will be posting in the near future. Hathcock also performs the useful service of surveying the general reception of Baker's novel, so his essay provides a valuable context for a critical debate about the novel and about Baker's fiction in general.
Scott Esposito's essay on Marias is an impressive examination of Marias's depiction of sex and the attitude toward sex expressed by his characters, implicitly in contrast to that found in Baker's fiction. It also connects the portrayal of sexual desire to the style and structure of Marias's fiction, in a way that should make this essay an effective introduction to Maria's work as well. I have not read Marias myself, and the essay made me want to do that, which seems to me the highest praise I could give to a critical essay of this kind.
The theme uniting the essays gives them an added interest beyond the consideration given the individual authors, and thus Lady Chatterley's Brother can be appreciated as both literary criticism focused on these two writers and as a broader discussion of "sex writing" in contemporary fiction. It's well worth the quite nominal price charged for the download.