Susan Bernofsky’s very interesting post about David Bellos’s very interesting comments about this very interesting sounding book is yet one more reason to rush out and start reading (and rereading) Perec:
David Bellos spoke at NYU’s Maison Française last night, presenting his new translation of Georges Perec’s The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise. This book is a variation of what Bellos explains is now generally called matrix literature, stories based on allowing readers to select certain plot strands and ignore others à la choose your own adventure books. But in this case, rather than excluding the rejected possibilities, Perec includes all of them, detailing the various choices the book’s protagonist (addressed in the second person passim) might make and then describing what will happen in each case. Where Raymond Queneau’s approach to the matrix story in “Conte a votre façon” (A Story As You Like It) might be described as “intellectual” (says Bellos, and I agree), Perec’s is “obsessive” and “exhaustive.”
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Bellos also passed on an interesting bit of insider gossip for readers of Perec’s masterpiece La vie: mode d’emploi, which appears in his translation as Life: A User’s Manual: the answers to many of the mysteries in this book are contained only in the index, and the index of the English-language book contains several more answers than the French original. Bellos felt that certain of the clues Perec included elsewhere in the book became so much more obscure in English translation that the reader deserved a second chance to find them.
And just a reminder (and another reason to get on this Perec thing): The Conversational Reading Spring 2011 Group Read of Life: A User’s Manual kicks off on Sunday. Click here for the schedule and other details
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