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Three by Perec (Verba Mundi)
Georges PerecPerec has rightfully assumed his position in the pantheon of truly original writers of the past century. Godine has issued all but one of is his books in this country, including his masterpiece Life, A User's Manual. Here, in one volume, are three "easy pieces" by the master of the verbal firecracker and Gallic wit. The novella "The Exeter Text" contains all those e's that were omitted from A Void (Perec hated waste) and no other vowel (honest). In "Which Moped with Chrome-Plated Handlebars at the Back of the Yard?" we are introduced to Sergeant Henri Pollak and his vehicle (the aforementioned moped) that carried him between Vincennes and Montparnasse; in "A Gallery Portrait", the sensation of the 1913 exhibition in Pittsburgh depicts the artists' patron, beer baron Hermann Raffke, sitting in front of his huge art collection, which includes (of course) "A Gallery Portrait" of the baron sitting before "A Gallery Portrait," etc.
"53 Days"
Georges Perec, David Bellos, Harry Mathews, Jacques RoubaudCelebrate Georges Perec with "53 Days", available in paperback for the first time!

At the time of his death, Perec was hard at work on this absorbing, allusive, and playful literary thriller. "53 Days" is the ultimate detective story: the narrator, a French colonial teacher, is hot on the trail of famous crime writer Robert Serval, who has mysteriously vanished. Perec lures the reader into a labyrinth of mirror-stories—which are mirrored in turn by Perec's own riddling drafts and notes for the end of "53 Days", reconstructed here by fellow Oulipians Harry Mathews and Jacques Roubaud. "53 Days" is a supremely satisfying, engrossing, and truly original mystery.
The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise
Georges PerecNever-before-published fiction by the master novelist, this darkly funny, subversive story is also a profound examination of the psychology of the worker and the workplace.A long-suffering employee in a big corporation has summoned up the courage to ask for a raise. But as he runs through the coming encounter in his mind, his neuroses come to the surface: What’s the best day to see the boss? What if he doesn’t offer you a seat when you go into his office? Would it be a smart move to ask about his daughter’s illness?

Never previously published, Georges Perec’s The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise is a hilarious account of an employee losing his identity—and possibly his sanity—as he tries to put on the most acceptable face for the corporate world, with its rigid hierarchies and hostility to ideas and innovation. If he follows a certain course of action, so this logic goes, he will succeed—but, in accepting these conditions, are his attempts to challenge his world of work doomed from the outset?

Neurotic and pessimistic, yet endearing, comic and never less than entertaining, Perec’s Woody Allen-esque underling presents an acute and penetrating vision of the world of office work, as pertinent today as it was when it was written in 1968.
An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris
Georges PerecOne overcast weekend in October 1974, Georges Perec set out in quest of the "infraordinary": the humdrum, the non-event, the everyday—"what happens," as he put it, "when nothing happens." His choice of locale was Place Saint-Sulpice, where, ensconced behind first one cafe window, then another, he spent three days recording everything to pass through his field of vision: the people walking by; the buses and driving-school cars caught in their routes; the pigeons moving suddenly en masse; a wedding (and then a funeral) at the church in the center of the square; the signs, symbols and slogans littering everything; and the darkness that finally absorbs it all. In An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris, Perec compiled a melancholic, slightly eerie and oddly touching document in which existence boils down to rhythm, writing turns into time and the line between the empirical and the surreal grows surprisingly thin.
Georges Perec and the Oulipo: Winter Journeys
Georges Perec, Michèle Audin, Marcel Bénabou, Jacques BensIn 1979, Georges Perec (1936-1982) wrote a brief entertainment called "The Winter Journey" for a publisher's catalogue. It quickly became his most frequently reprinted short story. Set on the eve of World War II, it recounts the discovery of a great literary masterpiece that conceals a scandalous secret at the heart of the whole of modern French literature. Every aspect of literary history will have to be rewritten. However, the War intervenes, and the work is lost forever. The present volume, a kind of "hyper-novel," includes and then extends this brief parable, which turns out to be so resonant with possibilities. Georges Perec was perhaps the most celebrated member of the Oulipo group of writers in France, and over the years members of the group have written 20 sequels to this tale, between 1992 and January of this year. The result is a novel of digressions, gradual elaboration and bizarre forays into the totally unexpected. Winter Journeys has become one of the most extended and congenial literary experiments of recent times; it includes meditations on the literary tastes of worms, book-burning in the Nazi period, the delights of plagiarism and the twisted rationality of bibliophilia. First published as a limited paperback edition in 2001, this new volume is twice the length of its predecessor. Please note that pages 136-140 are intentionally printed upside down, as part of the narrative on those pages (François Caradec's "The Worm's Journey," which describes a bookworm's path through a book).
I Remember
Georges PerecAt once an affectionate portrait of mid-century Paris and a daring pointillist autobiography, Georges Perec s I Remember is the last of this essential writer s major works to be translated into English.

Consisting of 480 numbered statements, all beginning identically with I remember, and all limited to pieces of public knowledge brand names and folk wisdom, actors and illnesses, places and things ( I remember: When parents drink, children tipple ; I remember Hermès handbags, with their tiny padlocks ; I remember myxomatosis ) the book represents a secret key to the world of Perec s fiction.

As critic, translator, and Perec biographer David Bellos notes in his introduction to this edition, since its original publication, It s hardly possible to utter the words je me souviens in French these days without committing a literary allusion. As playful and puzzling as the best of Perec s novels, I Remember began as a simple writing exercise, and grew into an expansive, exhilarating work of art: the image of one unmistakable and irreplaceable life, shaped from the material of our collective past. For this edition, Perec s 480 memories, sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure, have been elucidated and explained by David Bellos. 

This book is manifestly autobiographical and also obeys a rigid (but not difficult) formal constraint. It is also one of the oddest works of literature ever written. Published in 1978 shortly after Perec's masterpiece, Life A User's Manual, won the Médicis Prize, I Remember is not a play, a poem, or a novel, and it's not a memoir in the ordinary sense either.
La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams
Georges PerecThe beguiling, never-before-translated dream diary of Georges Perec

In La Boutique Obscure Perec once again revolutionized literary form, creating the world’s first “nocturnal autobiography.” From 1968 until 1972—the period when he wrote his most well-known works—the beloved French stylist recorded his dreams. But as you might expect, his approach was far from orthodox.

Avoiding the hazy psychoanalysis of most dream journals, he challenged himself to translate his visions and subconscious churnings directly into prose. In laying down the nonsensical leaps of the imagination, he finds new ways  to express the texture and ambiguity of dreams—those qualities that prove so elusive.

Beyond capturing a universal experience for the first time and being a fine document of literary invention, La Boutique Obscure contains the seeds of some of Perec’s most famous books. It is also an intimate portrait of one of the great innovators of modern literature.
Species of Spaces and Other Pieces
Georges Perec, John Sturrock“One of the most significant literary personalities in the world.”—Italo Calvino
 
Georges Perec, author of the highly acclaimed Life: A User’s Manual, was only forty-six when he died in 1982. Despite a tragic childhood, during which his mother was deported to Auschwitz, Perec produced some of the most entertaining essays of the age. His literary output was deliberately varied in form and style and this generous selection of Perec’s non-fictional work, the first to appear in English, demonstrates his characteristic lightness of touch, wry humor, and accessibility.
 
As he contemplates the many ways in which we occupy the space around us, as he depicts the commonplace items with which we are familiar in a startling, engrossing way, as he recounts his psychoanalysis while remaining reticent about his feelings or depicts the Paris of his childhood without a trace of sentimentality, we become aware that we are in the presence of a remarkable, virtuoso writer.
Things: A Story of the Sixties; A Man Asleep (Verba Mundi) (Verba Mundi (Paperback))
Georges PerecWith the American publication of Life, a User's Manual in 1987, Georges Perec was immediately recognized in the U.S. as one of this century's most innovative writers. Now Godine is pleased to issue two of his most powerful novels in one volume: Things, in an authoritative new translation, and A Man Asleep, making its first English appearance. Both provoked strong reactions when they first appeared in the 1960s; both which speak with disquieting immediacy to the conscience of today's readers. In each tale Perec subtly probes our obsession with society's trappings the seductive mass of things that crams our lives, masquerading as stability and meaning.

Jerome and Sylvie, the young, upwardly mobile couple in Things, lust for the good life. "They wanted life's enjoyment, but all around them enjoyment was equated with ownership." Surrounded by Paris's tantalizing exclusive boutiques, they exist in a paralyzing vacuum of frustration, caught between the fantasy of "the film they would have liked to live" and the reality of life's daily mundanities.

In direct contrast with Jerome and Sylvie's cravings, the nameless student in A Man Asleep attempts to purify himself entirely of material desires and ambition. He longs "to want nothing. Just to wait, until there is nothing left to wait for. Just to wander, and to sleep." Yearning to exist on neutral ground as "a blessed parenthesis," he discovers that this wish is by its very nature a defeat.

Accessible, sobering, and deeply involving, each novel distills Perec's unerring grasp of the human condition as well as displaying his rare comic talent. His generosity of observation is both detached and compassionate.
Thoughts Of Sorts
Georges Perec
A Void
Georges Perec*****
W, or the Memory of Childhood
Georges PerecFrom the author of Life: A User's Manual (Godine, 1987) comes an equally astonishing novel: W or The Memory of Childhood, a narrative that reflects a great writer's effort to come to terms with his childhood and his part in the Nazi occupation of France.

Guaranteed to send shock waves through the literary community, Perec's W tells two parallel stories. The first is autobiographical, describing the author's wartime boyhood. The second tale, denser, more disturbing, more horrifying, is the allegorical story of W, a mythical island off Tierra del Fuego governed by the thrall of the Olympic "ideal," where losers are tortured and winners held in temporary idolatry.

As the reader soon discovers, W is a place where "it is more important to be lucky than to be deserving," and "you have to fight to live...[with] no recourse, no mercy, no salvation, not even any hope that time will sort things out." Here, sport is glorified and victors honored, but athletes are vilified, losers executed, rape common, stealing encouraged and violence a fact of life.

Perec's interpretive vision of the Holocaust forces us to ask the question central to our time: How did this happen before our eyes? How did we look at those "shells of skin and bone, ashen faced, with their backs permanently bent, their eyes full of panic and their suppurating sores"? How did this happen, not on W, but before millions of spectators, some horrified, some cheering, some indifferent, but all present at the games watching the events of that grisly arena?

This book, a devastating indictment of passivity and the psychology of crowds, will find its place beside such great works as Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and Primo Levi's The Periodic Table and If Not Now, When?