❰Reading❯ ➻ La Vie mode d'emploi Author Georges Perec – Transportjobsite.co.uk

La Vie mode d'emploi summary La Vie mode d'emploi, series La Vie mode d'emploi, book La Vie mode d'emploi, pdf La Vie mode d'emploi, La Vie mode d'emploi 691a442191 Life A User S Manual Is An Unclassified Masterpiece, A Sprawling Compendium As Encyclopedic As Dante S Commedia And Chaucer S Canterbury Tales And, In Its Break With Tradition, As Inspiring As Joyce S Ulysses Perec S Spellbinding Puzzle Begins In An Apartment Block In The XVIIth Arrondissement Of Paris Where, Chapter By Chapter, Room By Room, Like An Onion Being Peeled, An Extraordinary Rich Cast Of Characters Is Revealed In A Series Of Tales That Are Bizarre, Unlikely, Moving, Funny, Or Sometimes Quite Ordinary From The Confessions Of A Racing Cyclist To The Plans Of An Avenging Murderer, From A Young Ethnographer Obsessed With A Sumatran Tribe To The Death Of A Trapeze Artist, From The Fears Of An Ex Croupier To The Dreams Of A Sex Change Pop Star To An Eccentric English Millionaire Who Has Devised The Ultimate Pastime, Life Is A Manual Of Human Irony, Portraying The Mixed Marriages Of Fortunes, Passions And Despairs, Betrayals And Bereavements, Of Hundreds Of Lives In Paris And Around The WorldBut The Novel In Than An Extraordinary Range Of Fictions It Is A Closely Observed Account Of Life And Experience The Apartment Block S One Hundred Rooms Are Arranged In A Magic Square, And The Book As A Whole Is Peppered With A Staggering Range Of Literary Puzzles And Allusions, Acrostics, Problems Of Chess And Logic, Crosswords, And Mathematical Formulae All Are There For The Reader To Solve In The Best Tradition Of The Detective Novel

10 thoughts on “La Vie mode d'emploi

  1. says:

    Last night after I had finished reading this book, there still lingered a smile on my face I had read last 100 ish pages in a rush It was only after I finished reading and put the book down that I realized that I was going to miss this charming book.After hearing out little anecdotes and life stories of a multitude of characters, after reliving moments of their lives through their stories, it is now time to say our goodbyes I stand at the doorstep waving my hand and watching those figures shrink in the distance I already miss them Long after the last one of them has gone past the horizon, one would see me still leaning against the door frame, lost in my thoughts and smiling to myself Someone gently touches my shoulder and wakes me up from daydreams I go back inside to get back to my daily responsibilities, but today it is somehow different Today is different because I carry this refreshing and heartwarming feeling within me.Now I am having a hard time figuring out what book to read after this while I go through a Perec withdrawal I certainly don t want a book to punch me in the gut with its life is harsh or the world and its people are going to the dogs messages right now Perec s Life is uplifting and pro life Perec daubs the canvas with uncountable shades, from humorous to heart breaking But he is never pessimistic I wouldn t want its refreshing fragrance to fade away too fast.The novel has been written following several constraints But it in no way alienates the reader The reader is warmly welcomed with open arms and made to feel at home This book is best read slowly over a couple of weeks while savoring little moments and several lives you encounter through this.

  2. says:

    The first time I laid eyes on Georges Perec not too dissimilar from his profile photo many wild thoughts went through my head, a former child genius maybe, who had a nervous breakdown, ran away from home and was taken in by a religious cult that wore white robes and worshipped the moons of Jupiter, or a crazy scientist who spent far too much time in a dingy basement playing around with bunsen burners and messing with chemical formulas, or how about a quite brilliant eccentric piano player who was kidnapped by a Colombian drug cartel and forced to play a birthday concert for the wife of a cartel boss in a hidden mansion, only to develop a seriously bad coke habit before being released Sometimes our minds wonder here, there and everywhere , in the case of Perec, he takes the concept of an imaginative mindset but rises to a whole other level Paul Auster who was a big fan is quoted as saying a dazzling, crazy quilt monument to the imagination , well, it s every bit dazzling, monumental in size, and as for imagination it s simply like nothing else I have ever come across From the opening few chapters, right through to it s end, Perec s ingenious novel is complex, puzzling, serious, side splitting funny and wholly original.So, ever looked up at an apartment building and wondered what goes on in there Ever looked at a lit window across the street and wanted to know what the person inside was getting up to Ever seen an old lady, dressed in expensive clothes, walking her dog up the front steps of a grand town house and thought, just what her life has been like All the things she has seen and done, her lost loves, the family that are no longer alive, where did she holiday , does she have children her whole existence echoing down the years Well Perec obviously did Chapter by Chapter we are taken over by the many different lives that have inhabited a Parisian apartment block spanning sixty years As Serge Valene who is at the center of the novel contemplates the lives of people he has seen come and go over the years, revealing the most diverse, marvelous, outrageous and strangest bunch of characters I can think of The sheer quantity of them is nothing short of phenomenal sometimes we are taken not just through the lives of residents, but also the history of their families as well, each and every tale within are, shall we say, never conventional and most border on damn right lunacy , as for any plot, forget it.Travelling around rooms, floor by floor, entering through each door, we get a low down of the furniture, what type , what colour , is it old , is it new What s hung on walls , what s the carpet like , how s the bed , what personal items are lying around , what food is in the kitchen , is there pets , is the place tidy, messy, smelly And this only touches the surface , as the attention to detail walking around these apartment rooms is so thorough, it feels as if you are trapped inside one gigantic department store showroom , so the building itself becomes a living, breathing part of the jigsaw, just as much as the actual residents We don t just get the occupants of each room, but previous occupants as well, and their life experiences, ups and downs, tears and laughter.There is a voyeuristic thrill the further we journey around the building, it grows on us, it becomes our home as much as theirs And as various events overlap and interact with others, making Life feel of a montage than a formal portrait, and geographically as well as historically leaves the reader completely bedazzled, but of course I have been so overly enthusiastic in my positives here, there must be negatives right yes, there is.For a start navigating around over 100 rooms was always going to reach a point where possible boredom sets in, as the excess of descriptive narration throughout the whole book is erexcessive.Also with whole pages within chapters that contain various different lists, BIG ones , it s quite easy to just skip through 2 3 pages and not really miss a thing In fact I could see many people just skip whole chapters Don t get me wrong , these lists are interesting, but do become tedious and reveal very little regarding the actual occupant of that particular room However there is the bonus of drawings and extra textual material, some of which is genuinely useful for the overall reading process Perec is also a bit of a showoff regarding his vast knowledge of the possibilities of consumerism in 70 s Paris But I guess in a way he has every right to feel overly confident Perec simply brings us life, in all it s wonderful and strange glory Sometimes normal, sometimes bonkers he does so on the shiniest of silver platters.

  3. says:

    Another example of one of those rare works that seemingly contain Everything, Life does not lend itself to brief summation Like one of those tiny foam dinosaurs that grow to a humongous size when soaked in water is that really the best simile I can come up with jesus , after closing the last of its 600 pages I still feel it expanding Just look at the appendices Hundreds of characters, over hundreds of years, hundreds of stories, hundreds of interconnections, all planned down to the centimeter using these constraints If Perec wrote no other book than this he would deservedly be considered a genius The best novel of the 1970 s Last half of the 20th century I don t know, but I d put it in the running Let s argue about this heatedly in a 5 page comment thread Or not But there is an entire world come to life in these 600 pages, heavily populated, intricate, seething, over full, all generated from the minute exploration of the individual living quarters in an apartment building on a fictional street in Paris 11 Rue Simon Crubellier, imaginary Paris, arrondissment Georges Perec.One of my absolute favorite films is Stanley Kubrick s Barry Lyndon The main cinematic technique that lends the film its particular rhythm is the slow zoom out A scene begins with the camera focused very closely on one or two subjects or objects, and then is slowly pulled back, maintaining a deep field focus, deliberately and quietly minimizing the subjects within the frame of the screen, showing the size and composition of the world in which they are contained There is a similar literary strategy at play in Life Chapters usually begin with a few paragraphs describing in great detail objects in a particular room paintings, furniture, appliances, clothing, knick knacks, etc and then those objects are slowly zoomed away from, and the story is told of the inhabitants of those rooms, or of someone associated with those objects or the place in which those objects rest The feeling evoked is similar in Barry Lyndon and Life, the tight focus on minutiae and then the slow revealing of its place in an immense story Though there is a crucial difference Kubrick s technique was employed to show a thing s limitations within a space Perec s technique is employed to show their resonance how these small, almost indifferent things are the clues left behind that, when worked through, piece together immense worlds.So much of this book is lists of objects, beautifully described Objects, which so readily accumulate the patina of time, which often outlive us, which stay where we leave them, signifiers of who we are, were, wanted to be those versions of ourselves we discarded out of need or necessity or on a whim, what we sloughed off but couldn t bring ourselves to throw away Keepsakes of our affinities Objects, whose arrangement in our lives is like the finger trace left in a film of dust on an old desk, the proof we came this way, did this or that These can be things as simple as our socks and old photographs, souvenirs of voyages, or as complex as novels we write, the family trees we form a branch of The way we arrange objects, and the objects we choose to keep around us, speak volumes of our interior lives These lists of objects that make up so much of Life are the great part the characterizations of the people who make up this book But lists of objects work in another way, too Lists draw attention only to themselves They leave the signifier untouched by a narrative purpose Purposeless, they speak to the meaning of the word as it is written, and give only that meaning By serving no purpose in a narrative, an object of pure description survives the various ways a story can be dragged into oblivion by the words employed in its telling It is the thing itself A book made up of lists is therefore an undying book, giving meaning only in and of itself and the objects it names However, the objects in Life don t sit there unattached to narrative, they initiate the endless narratives Apart and interwoven, Perec has reconciled the solitary object with the relic of time its story , by leaving the things accumulated as starting points of their own histories So Life is both Flaubert s ideal book about nothing , while simultaneously satisfying Queneau s idea that all novels reflect either the Iliad or the Odyssey A book of nothings and everythings of things immobile as well as lives unfurling Life is such a generous book, it gives so much, its complexities always yielding to some basic joy, its ironies giving insights, its tragedies so beautiful, its mysteries so delightful, its intelligence steeped in playfulness, its erudition serving such human ends 1,001 Parisian Nights Another infinite novel Sometimes Val ne had the feeling that time had been stopped, suspended, frozen around he didn t know what expectation The very idea of the picture he planned to do and whose laid out, broken up images had begun to haunt every second of his life, furnishing his dreams, squeezing his memories, the very idea of this shattered building laying bare the cracks of its past, the crumbling of the present, this unordered amassing of stories grandiose and trivial, frivolous and pathetic, gave him the impression of a grotesque mausoleum raised in the memory of companions petrified in terminal postures as insignificant in their solemnity as they were in their ordinariness, as if he had wanted both to warn of and to delay these slow or quick deaths which seemed to be engulfing the entire building storey by storey Monsieur Marcia, Madame Moreau, Madame de Beaumont, Bartlebooth, Rorschach, Mademoiselle Crespi, Madame Albin, Smautf And himself, of course, Val ne himself, the longest inhabitant of the house

  4. says:

    i may have mentioned this before, but i had an ephiphanal reader experience last fall last fall i was lucky enough to score a ticket to hear salman rushdie read at cornell the experience left me not only with a hankering to read sir rushdie, but also to make a solemn promise to myself to read less crap a disclaimer i don t think that any of what i read is actually crap but that my promise to myself was invoking rather a desire to put myself forward at least a fraction of the distance that a truly gifted writer extends themselves when creating a masterful piece of literature.listening to rushdie, i realized i d been having flings with lots of small novellas that required really nothing of me as a reader they were passably enjoyable, in many cases i had become familiar with the writer s style and their cadence and this familiarity is pleasing to a reader, but i really hadn t sunk my teeth into anything that required of me any than an ability to read not that i needed to tackle the canon, whatever that was, but that life is short, man, and there are some amazing, nuanced, change your life tomes out there and i d been avoiding them.so that in mind, i tore through rushdie s midnight s children which entirely delivered on that front , and then cast about looking for the what next having a partner that majored in french literature is always handy in such situations he recommended this novel i let it fester on my bookshelf for a while if 600 pages isn t intimidating, i don t know what is , and then finally put it in my suitcase to take back with me to berlin where i am living working remotely for a stretch the novel is honestly, one of the most amazing things i have ever read you are given many stories within the bindings, and many lifetimes the novel takes you through the lives of all the inhabitants in an 1960 s walk up flat in paris, but with a difference the rooms, the ephemera and the stories of each of these people carry equal importance throughout the novel, and while epic, it is not the traditional epic narrative of one or two family s lives in the back of the book, preceding a rather fantastic index, is an architectural floorplan of the building, to which i found myself referring to in every story each block stands for one person s abode, and often in italics above the current resident is the name of the previous long term tenant the stories of the lives of those in the building will leave you slack jawed you will wonder about the lives of those you know passingly or not at all, those that you encounter closely or obliquely in your everyday life there are no morals or moralizing in this tome, and you will find yourself often on the heels of yet another impossibly captivating read about the details of one of the tenant s lives, and then immediately be cast into three pages discussing three paintings hanging on a wall in another apartment.this last artifact is something that exasperated my boyfriend, r., who has read it twice in the original french perec once worked as an archivist at a neurophysiological research laboratory, which may account for his vast interest in the kinds of minutae described in the book minutae which, in the original french, accounts for some pretty wacky and often anachronistic language that isn t always found in french english dictionaries you will find yourself encountering lists upon lists, and wondering what it all means, or worse, tempted to skim ahead to the next great story DON T skim the lists, that is as you read on, you will come to understand that the intention of the author both towards the novel and towards you, the reader, is to understand that the ephemera, the lists, the lives of things are every bit as important as the impossibly fantastic stories told side by side about the characters inhabiting the building that while experiences gives these characters meaning in our eyes, these people s possessions, ephemera and clutter give meaning to theirs you will find that they are given equal consideration and measure you may further find yourself being surprised to agree with perec on his choosing and understanding of this matter.there is a kind of loose narrative thread in the novel, a few characters you are made to care about than others i don t want to give it away, but suffice it to say that each night that i sat down to read another 10, 20, or 100 pages of this novel, ryan was enjoying reliving his reading through my retelling of some little gem that i had just gotten to, or expanded my understanding of something that had occurred 200 pages earlier, or what have you another note about reading it it s not the kind of novel that you necessarily feel compelled to read straight through in a compressed amount of time at least i didn t i took a few months with this novel, and the pacing and manner of storytelling in it is such that it can be picked up and left off reasonably at most places in the book.when you finally finish it, i don t doubt that you will be left with the feeling that you have just had a once in a lifetime reading experience, and that you are a better person for it.

  5. says:

    By about page 200, this was firmly in my top 10 fave books By the end, it seemed to me like a clear cut canonical biggie eg, Moby Dick, Infinite Jest, 2666, Ulysses , but better natured than these also, it didn t seem like much of a chip was trying to be knocked off the authorial shoulder Joyce took on Shakespeare, DFW tried to depose the postmodernist phallocracy, but Perec seems at peace It s like Beckett s sucking stones section in Molloy elaborate, infinitely detailed processes eventually reduced to nothing, but not with semi suspicious creative writing 101 poignancy here it s a celebration of the word in this book s title Not much dialogue, mostly summarized scenes, short chapters, stories within stories within stories, a cast of hundreds The Bartlebooth section, even if published alone, probably would have won the author the Nobel Prize if he d lived into his sixties Highly recommended to people who like to read, especially those readers into towering literary artistry ie, audacious, original, extraordinarily well executed, life affirming, good natured, inspiring masterpieces.

  6. says:

    Recommended for Readers looking for something DIFFERENT.Georges Perce brought his multifaceted talent to this amazing book Life A User s Manual Nine years in the making, it won him the Prix M dicis a solid international credential.An offbeat, quirky tale, its cumulative effect is staggering Approach its playful inventiveness appreciatively it ll prove to be a rewarding read Feel bogged down by its endless lists of objects paraphernalia, and you won t make much headway An Oulipian Marvel Perec has created here an intriguing puzzle written under constraints, it s a fitting tribute to Raymond Queneau, the grand master of the Oulipian school of writing.From the wiki Perec also wrote Life A User s Manual using the Knight s Tour method of construction The book is set in a fictional Parisian block of flats, where Perec devises the elevation of the building as a 10 10 grid 10 storeys, including basements and attics and 10 rooms across, including 2 for the stairwell Each room is assigned to a chapter, and the order of the chapters is given by the knight s moves on the grid Here s a visual of the 42 constraints grid The Architext While a knight s tour is a solitary game, the art of jigsaw puzzling is not The latter calls for an active author reader relationship the epigraph taken from Jules Verne, says Look with all your eyes, look , cause every move the puzzler makes, the puzzle maker has made before every piece the puzzler picks up, and picks up again, and studies and strokes, every combination he tries, and tries a second time, every blunder and every insight, each hope and each discouragement have all been designed, calculated, and decided by the other What makes LAUM an exemplary architext is its almost complete interpenetration of theme and structure, so that to describe one is to describe the other , the novel is set in an apartment building on Rue Simon Crubellier but as we read on, we realise that the book is the apartment building itself According to Perec, the novel was partly inspired by a Saul Steinberg drawing of a New York rooming house with its facade removed , Perec writes, the mere inventory and it could never be exhaustive of the items of furniture and the actions represented has something truly vertiginous about it The map provided in the book obscures as much as it reveals,for its erasure of the wall divisions within each apartment belies the fact that the building has a total of hundred rooms Its elongated, rectangular form also disguises another crucial aspect of the book s architecture when made square and superimposed upon the rectilinear grid of an architectural floor plan, Perec s original plan begins to resemble an enlarged ten by ten chessboard While the knight s tour is mapped out for the reader each room visited can be placed, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, back within the frame of the building s architectural floor plan The Lives of Others Perec satisfies the voyeur in us we are always interested in the lives of others LAUM is constructed as a huge diorama, giving us a panoramic view of the lives of all the residents of 11 Rue Simon Crubellier Sometimes Val ne had the feeling that time had been stopped, suspended, frozen around he didn t know what expectation The very idea of the picture he planned to do and whose laid out, broken up images had begun to haunt every second of his life, furnishing his dreams, squeezing his memories, the very idea of this shattered building laying bare the cracks of its past, the crumbling of its present, this unordered amassing of stories grandiose and trivial, frivolous and pathetic, gave him the impression of a grotesque mausoleum raised in the memory of companions petrified in terminal postures as insignificant in their solemnity as they were in their ordinariness, as if he had wanted both to warn of and to delay these slow or quick deaths which seemed to be engulfing the entire building storey by storey The plot covers one day, nay, a single moment, in the lives of these people, frozen in time something momentous has occured here but we don t know that yet The fl neur like narrator takes us on a tour of this building, room by room, place by place, using a knight s move on the chessboard Perec brilliantly employs flashback flash forwarding techniques to cover in a single day, hundred years of history in the manner of Arabian Nights Ovid s Metamorphoses, stories lead to stories even stories, thus effectively overcoming constraints of time place Lives intersect, sometimes casually, sometimes to damaging lasting effect The tenants come from different national ethnic socio economic groups the house thus becomes a microcosm of the world at large Objects, objects everywhere, not a clue to be seen These objectives are achieved through a perusal of objects the characters personal histories The objects provide the setting help us understand the kinds of people who live lived there In a way, imbued with history emotions, they seem to have assumed a life of their own, like the entertainment cartridge in Infinite Jest, the puzzle mystery in Life A User s Manual, becomes a mad chase towards various objects with which this book s universe is cluttered but just as IJ is infinitely than the search for that elusive object, LAUM too is ultimately a human drama played out on a vast scale Sometimes, the objects are like bread crumbs leaving a trail which might as well turn out to be a false one in order to arrive at the heart of the story, ultimately, you ll have to look beyond them A Faustian Bargain Perec could ve called Bartlebooth, Ahab, but that would ve been too obvious he settled for Bartle by booth Most of the characters here are having projects of one kind or another eventually they all end in failures.The defeats are crushing, the victories small ephemeral so much so, that one is tempted to call it Life A Loser s Manual There is a lot of loss in this book lost love, lost fortunes, lost jobs, lost lives, lost hope and what is probably the biggest loss in the book, the loss of time and evidence of existence represented by Bartlebooth s project France, along with most of Europe, was torn asunder by that world war, split between the resistors, the collaborators, and the the not sure what to dos In 1975, these survivors and the effects of those years were still fresh enough to account for the atmosphere found at 11 Rue Simon Crubellier And so there is a certain pall that hung over the France of those years, and though Perec might not emphasize it too directly, there s no way his work or his characters can escape the reality of those times There is a gravity in Perec that comes from a deep and heavy place I don t want to project too much, but the general scarcity of joyous and humorous moments and silver linings and so on must have history as its source.In my edition, there is a short disclaimer from Perec right after the Contents that reads Friendship, history, and literature have supplied me with some of the characters of this book All other resemblances to living persons or to people having lived in reality or fiction can only be coincidental Normally, I would dismiss this as a legal requirement of the business world, but in this case, I read it as Perec acknowledging that this fiction is based on lives lived and events lived through the good, bad, and mundane days of each of these individuals making up the mini cosmos of the apartment building Each of these individual stories could have taken place in any time and place adjusted for cultural details, of course making this and of a User s Manual for human life as each chapter rolls by Like Gray s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Perec has also immortalised in words, the teeming common life their mundane, everyday concerns, their joys sorrows, absence of completeness, absence of perfection And like Proust, Perec too has immersed himself in retrieving memories He tried to resuscitate those imperceptible details which over the course of fifty five years had woven the life of this house and which the years had unpicked one by one the impeccably polished linoleum floors on which you were only allowed to walk in felt undershoes, the oiled canvas tablecloths with red and green stripes on which mother and daughter shelled peas the dishstands that clipped together, the white porcelain counterpoise light that you could flick back up with one finger at the end of dinner evenings by the wireless set, with the man in a flannel jacket, the woman in a flowery apron, and the slumbering cat rolled up in a ball by the fireplace children in clogs going down for the milk with dented cans the big old wood stoves of which you would collect up the ashes in spread out sheets of old newspaper Where were they now, the Van Houten cocoa tins, the Banania cartons with the laughing infantryman, the turned wood boxes of Madeleine biscuits from Commercy 5 shining stars for the genius, the madness, and the chutzpah Ultimately, it s about life in all its variegated forms A sadness permeates this celebration of life, still it s a celebration, let there be no doubt about that A series of parables that teach us to laugh through our tears, for such is life References 1 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 From the author intro 2 Constructing the Architext Georges Perec s Life,A User s Manual by Peta Mitchell 3 This review is dedicated to Jim at Brain Pain, for the invaluable insights he brought to this read.

  7. says:

    Life A User s Manual I seek the eternal and the ephemeralHaving just closed the book, I feel a bunch of things Perec captures a certain moment in time in the lives of the residents of a certain building and gives us the most detailed description of this snapshot Lists upon lists and descriptions upon descriptions of apartments, rooms, people, paintings and objects that compose this moment which, as is the case with all moments, doesn t consist only of present elements, but also ones that belong to the past So, what this book really is, is a kaleidoscope of every possible thing, every possible story that is part of the snapshot It s not a book to pass the time with It demands the reader s full attention and devotion Going back and forth through the pages in order to not lose grip of the multitude of names and storylines, I felt I was having the fullest reading experience ever imaginable Even so, I think it s impossible for one to discover all the surprises see easter eggs Perec has hidden in his text and if it hadn t been for Achilleas Kyriakidis afterword whose work in translating the book is a major accomplishment in itself , I would have missed even of them I don t think words can do this book justice It s a book one has to read in order for one to understand its uniqueness and majesty Trying to talk about it is like a blind man trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle Nihilistic and optimistic in its own way, Life A User s Manual is likely to stay in your mind for a long time Italo Calvino called it the final major event in world literature I don t know about it being the final, but it s certainly one of the most significant works of literature ever created Important Note Best read with a cat on your lap or at least somewhere nearby.

  8. says:

    George Perec s novel was published in French in 1978 and first published in English in 1987 This could not have been an easy assignment for the translator.The opening quotation, Look with all your eyes, look quoting Jules Verne is both an allusion to the wonder of both deciphering how we see the world and how we remember what we have seen Or think we have seenThis glorious, delectable visual feast of a novel, is constructed in the manner of an elaborate jigsaw puzzle Perec s canvas and construct is a single Parisian apartment building and across 99 episodic chapters he describes in meticulous and often intricate detail each and every room And we the viewer are transplanted from apartment to apartment if one were to view the building front on like a Chess board via a single knight s move.A knight moves two squares parallel to one side of the board and one square parallel to the other side Any such move always takes the knight to a square of the opposite colour In 99 moves the knight can move across every square on the boardOstensibly, as we traverse the building and the matrix of descriptive details within, we are watching the creation of a painting by Serge Valene, an old artist who has lived in the building for 55 years A novel of such intense descriptive writing, you might think, would collapse in on itself under relentless documenting of detail The opposite is true, for Perec also expresses the humanity in the heartfelt life stories through the ages of every inhabitant of the building This array of ornate detail serves to amplify each person s story The macro details lead us down into the elliptical narratives of each inhabitant in sweeping cinematic style through elaborate vintage keyholes, ascending up into antique chandeliers to look down upon classical sheet music atop a rare Steinway piano to traverse the musical staves and begin learning of the history of each note s inscription and the hand that wrote them and the train they were on and the train passenger s neighbour s hat and the story behind the hat maker and on, and up and diagonally across through time and memory from apartment to apartment piece by piece the jigsaw the picture Life A User s Manual can be read as a parable about the efforts of the human mind to impose an arbitrary order on the world Or a meditation on memory even the act of writing itself This is a glorious book in both its inventive structure and its rich visual descriptions.

  9. says:

    List of items in my bathroom abacus, bouzouki once strummed by Warren Ellis, cauliflowers in brocade, Dungeons Dragoons strategy wargame for Windows 95, elf ears, Farsi medical dictionary, gorgonzola, Hunter S Thompson commemorative pineapple, inkwell, Jenga set, knitting needle made from yarn, Lemsip in cherry and chocolate flavours, mangle, nachos, octopus patterned duvet cover, Peter Andre poster circa Mysterious Girl, quicksand, rum, salsa shoes, Total Recall 4 DVD set, Ulysses in Everyman s Library hardback, voles, wisteria, yarmulke, zebra named Francine Prose.Reader reactions to this list astounding apathy, broken bladder, cauterised callipers, damaged dingbats, execrated excrement, futzed forceps, grazed gnocchi, hurt hamstrings, injured ionosphere, jerked jew s harp, kinked knee, licked lemon, mangled mangle, nastied nipples, ouched ostriches, pricked pips, quacked quays, ripped rumps, singed songsheets, touched tympani, undergone uvula, vuvvered vuvvers, wankered wimps, yooplop yimplam, zingzam zoomsung, etc, repeat for whole book but with French eccentrics and whimsical bourgeois.

  10. says:

    A pre reviewThis big novel has been on my physical shelf for years, it feels almost indecent to pick it up and actually begin it Especially when I don t think I ll like it Which is a shame, because I like the idea of Georges Perec, and I like the photo of him in the front here I like the cut of his jib He has a cat on his shoulder So, I ll give it 100 pages Then I expect I ll say something like Georges Perec is the larval stage of the French whimsy which became the butterfly of Jean Pierre Jeunot, who brought the interconnected magical puzzle aspects of life to er life in his great movie comedies Delicatessen the dark version and Amelie the light version and Micmacs the crazy revenge fantasy version update yes, I thought so.

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