Life : A User's Manual
Structured around a single moment in time -- 8:00 p.m. on June 23, 1975 -- 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 A User's Manual 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 world.
But the novel is more 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 formula. All are there for the reader to solve.
- Paperback | 661 pages
- 140 x 213 x 41mm | 794g
- 01 Sep 2009
- David R. Godine Publisher Inc
- Lincoln, United States
- Bilingual edition
- 2nd ed.
- Illustrations, black and white
Other books in this series
01 Jul 2010
"Those who have a taste for the unusual, for books that create worlds unto themselves, will be dazzled by this crazy-quilt monument to the imagination."--The New York Times Book Review
"In this wondrously optimistic book, he sidles through the lives of the inhabitants of a single Paris apartment block and manages to convey scintillas of every aspect of the human condition--proving that, while ultimately without point, life is a continuum rich beyond belief, and so very well worth living."--The Week Magazine
"This elaborate jigsaw puzzle of a novel has drawn comparisons to the masterworks of twentieth-century literature."--Rolling Stone
"A classic of contemporary fiction."--Publishers Weekly
"Perec's artistry has achieved a perfect balance between allure and imponderability."--The Los Angeles Times
About Georges Perec
In addition to being honored by the Prix Renaudot (1965), the Prix Jean Vigo (1974), the Prix Medicis (1978), and the French postal service (2002), both an asteroid and a street in Paris were named in his honor--as well as a Google Doodle on his 80th birthday.
David Bellos won the first Man Booker International Prize for his translations of the Albanian author, Ismail Kadare, and holds the rank of Officier in the Ordre national des Arts et des Lettres and an honorary membership in The International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters.