So having weighed the pros and cons you've decided to approach your boss to ask for that well-earned raise in salary but before you schedule the all-important meeting you decide to dip into this handy volume in the hope of finding some valuable tips but instead find a hilarious, mind-bending farcical account of all the many different things that may or may not happen on the journey to see your boss which uses no punctuation or capitalisation and certainly no full stops. Georges Perec famously wrote a whole novel without using the letter 'e'. Now, in this playful short novel, brilliantly translated by David Bellos, Perec once again dispenses with the normal rules for literary composition, with similarly pyrotechnic results.
Georges Perec (1936-82) won the Prix Renaudot in 1965 for his first novel Things: A Story of the Sixties, and went on to exercise his unrivalled mastery of language in almost every imaginable kind of writing, from the apparently trivial to the deeply personal. He composed acrostics, anagrams, autobiography, criticism, crosswords, descriptions of dreams, film scripts, heterograms, lipograms, memories, palindromes, plays, poetry, radio plays, recipes, riddles, stories short and long, travel notes, univocalics, and, of course, novels. Life: A User's Manual, which draws on many of Perec's other works, appeared in 1978 after nine years in the making and was acclaimed a masterpiece to put beside Joyce's Ulysses. It won the Prix Medicis and established Perec's international reputation.
"This Parisian-born author is famous, not to say notorious, for his puns, parody, circular plotting, skittish wit and word-wizardry of all sorts" Independent "Perec was a polymathic genius, and his early death in 1982 (he was only 45) robbed France of its most dazzling experimental writer, one who tried everything and failed at nothing...He has, deservedly, become a cult in France, particularly with young Parisians, who instinctively (and rightly) identify him as the super-zapper, the biographer of their fragmented consumer culture, of which he was himself the creation" Glasgow Herald "Perec is serious fun" Guardian "No punctuation, no pauses. This is the stuff of a dream comic monologue. Admirers of Perec will love the razor-sharp whimsy of this clever little tract, which could be so well delivered by a gifted stand-up such as Dylan Moran...In common with Thomas Pynchon, Perec had a love of literary devices, particularly catalogues, lists and descriptions of objects. Riddles, pubs, allusions and games dominate his work, Above all, though, for all the cleverness there is the punchy comic timing and an engaging humanity" -- Eileen Battersby Irish Times "More importantly, he's both celebrating and mocking the absurdly complex thinking that the human brain engages in while performing even the most simple of tasks. So on the basis of all this, can a computer create a work of art? In the end probably not, but when Perec's at the keyboard, it's a lot of fun watching it try" -- Mark Rappolt Art Review
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