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Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  1,130 ratings  ·  64 reviews
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, t ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1974)
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Glenn Russell

Georges Perec, age 45, told an interviewer how books by authors he loved when he was in his 20s were like pieces of a puzzle but there were still spaces between the pieces and those were the spaces where he could write. He went on to say how he would like to write everything in every way possible, including children’s books, science fiction, detective novels, cartoons, comedy, drama and film scripts. He also said that at the end of his life he would like to have used all the words in the diction
Adam Floridia
Species of Spaces 5/5:

Something about Perec’s originality just really gets me. His attention to detail, his ability to notice the everyday, but more so his taking the time to pay attention, to notice the everyday is some combination of the words “breathtaking” and “touching” that I can’t pin down. It’s like he embodies those hackneyed saying “you’ve got to stop to smell the roses” or “Life move’s pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it” (thanks Ferris). Of course, Perec
Riflessioni sullo spazio dal piccolo al grande, dal nostro letto all’universo infinito. Perec le focalizza su casa, condominio e città. Alcuni spunti sono interessanti, con una buon indice di apertura mentale. Complessivamente un po’ ozioso, ugualmente leggibile perché formato da capitoli brevissimi. Facile da interrompere, digeribile, si può leggere in autobus, al parco, in fila alle poste.
Feb 22, 2011 Andrew added it
Shelves: essays, oulipo
If you want a plot, or if you want a cohesive argument, then Perec isn't for you. If you want beautifully rendered belles-lettres about everything and nothing, then he should be right up your alley. In this slender volume of spatial meditations, lists, word games, and other odd ends, Perec as a person shines forth. In his novels, he seemed to exist more as a method, a way of writing. Even in the autobiographical, W or the Memory of Childhood, the childhood reminiscences didn't give us a terribly ...more
Stephanie McGarrah
This was my first book by Perec, and even though I was intrigued by some of the reviews, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I was expecting something difficult to read, but the only part that went over my head were the word games at the end of the book, (kudos to anyone who knew the answers to these) and I still loved reading about them. He was quite the wordsmith.

The short pieces that make up Species of Spaces are eclectic, varying in style. I loved this approach to writing and if
Nov 26, 2007 Jesse rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: him, them
One of the essays collected in this volume ("Robert Antelme or the Truth of Literature," 1962) carries an odd disclaimer from the compiler: "this essay dates to a time when Perec was more political in his outlook than he subsequently became," which seems to suggest that the content of the piece would be rendered invalid by a subsequent ideological shift on Perec's part.

It is in this piece, though, that Perec best sums up what was clearly his lifelong literary mission. He would be more succinct i
By far my favorite work of Perec, and probably in my top ten books of all time. It is a great introduction to his style; if you can't get into this, don't bother with Perec. One of my favorite works struggling with the enigma of the written word, what it means to be a writer, what it means to be a reader.

Modes of space within a space within a space, relationships thereof, conversations therewith and the subjectivity of place.

Interesting ideas, plays with the mind: existentialism. Is definitely an architect of form; though slight confusion with its language.
This man was a genius. This is a great collection to take your time over, and savor every word. There are so many of them, and they make you think in so many new ways.
Oct 09, 2007 Courtney rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: other people with ocd
I love the list of everything he ate for a year.

I wish he'd lived longer, so we could have been friends.
eggplant parmigiana
Veronica Martin (Editorial Intern, The Open Bar): My end of summer, transitional reading list is less a putting together and more a falling together than anything. One book that has ended up crossing summer’s boundary is George Perec’s Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. It turns out, Perec is kind of the perfect person to read at this juncture. Moving from one season into the next is very much a clearing of space, a brief moment when passing between two walled rooms—summer, fall—you find yourse ...more
Prabhat Saraswat
An absolutely brilliant book. I picked this book from a stock clearance sale of a book store, The image of the man himself intrigued me very much. As i read a little more, I knew this would be a beautiful book! Brought it! and yes it was. :)

It starts with a poem, a kid poem. It is a translated version as the entire prose is originally written in french, but most of the humor and syntactical playful experiments of georges perec is preserved.

Then begins a journey through spaces. Spaces around us,
Note before review: My rating is based on both Species of Spaces and the supplemental readings. If it were just Species, this rating would be five stars.

First, on Species:
It's been about a month or two between when I read this piece and now, but it's stuck with me the whole time. Perec pays close attention to everything around him, zooming out from the page he writes on the the whole of the universe, and along the way he observes things as simple as a man locking his car to go to the store, the
Espèces d'espaces (1974) (which has the trying-too-hard English title Species of Spaces and Other Pieces) isn't a novel, rather it's more of a freeform essay on the subject of space. Not in the "outer space" astronomical sense, but rather in the sense of how we take up space - how we inhabit it, how we imbue it.

Several times, I've tried to imagine a flat in which there'd be a completely unnecessary room, absolutely and deliberately unnecessary. It wouldn't be a storage room, or an extra bedroom
Emily Harris
This collection is like a textual version of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'; it's a mix of short essays, stories, phrases, thoughts & experiments. It's accessible, sometimes funny, misleadingly factual then candid. Perec is a wonderful writer and his relationship with words, and their appearance on the page, is unique. His way of 'reading' urban spaces - their streets, patterns, inhabitants - is also unique & valuable. I'll definitely try to read his other works soon.
My friend Colleen plucked this from a shelf and handed it to me after a conversation about the Oulipo movement and constraint. "If you like Calvino, you'll like this," she said. And she was right. It was a good book to read slowly and savor.

One particular surprise was Perec's account of being a paratrooper, a sort of meditation on letting go. It rang especially true since I've had a close relationship with a member of an army airborne unit.

I appreciate many Oulipo writers for their sense of min
this: "Space melts like sand running through one's fingers. Time bears it away and leaves me only shapeless shreds: To write: to try meticulously to retain something, to cause something to survive; to wrest a few precise scraps from the void as it grows, to leave somewhere a furrow, a trace, a mark or a few signs." and also this: "the world, no longer as a journey having constantly to be remade, not as a race without an end, a challenge having constantly to be met, not as the one pretext for a d ...more
Comprised of lists (things to do before death), food inventories (everything ingested in 1974), vignettes about space (page, bedroom, apartment, street, country, space, etc...), and autobiographical essays with sentences that describe everyday objects and allude to 20th c. atrocity in the same breath (he was orphaned by the holocaust and never mentions it)...his emotionally reticent style and tendency to withhold & supply detail at all the wrong moments give the reader the "space" to have em ...more
Nevjerojatno se lako čita. Ali povrh svega radi se o nečemu u čemu sam se u potpunosti pronašao - detaljizirani opisi svakog (za)kutka nekog prostora. Izvrsno štivo. Meni sasvim novo, drugima mogućnost novoga.
Tom Lobo
"We don't think enough about staircases. Nothing was more beautiful in old houses than the staircases."
Peter Mowris
Lesser known essays, just tons of fun. Read anything you can get your hands on by this guy. He is a delight.
Perec is a very inventive writer. He has a way of looking at things that I've never really experienced from a writer. He also tries a lot of things that most writers never thought of, stemming from his involvement in a French society celebrating word games. Not all of the essays worked for me, but the ones that did were really good. Species of Spaces was amazing. The essay about organizing books was particularly relevant seeing as I don't know where to shelve this book. I don't have an essay she ...more
Jacob Wren
Georges Perec writes:

In an old house in the 18th arrondissement I saw a WC that was shared by four tenants. The landlord refused to pay for the lighting of the said WC, and none of the four tenants was willing to pay for the three others, or had accepted the idea of a single meter and a bill divisible into four. So the WC was lit by four separate bulbs, each controlled by one of the four tenants. A single bulb burning night and day for ten years would have obviously been less expensive than inst
Kim Marie
It just goes to prove that oftentimes the best things come in small packages. Perec essentially looks at the various "Spaces" we inhabit in our everyday lives - from our bedrooms to our city blocks to our neighbors, our country and the world at large. His clever insights make the mundane seem extraordinary. I think he challenges us to open our minds to creatively look at the world around us not as a series of confinements but as a series of opportunities for reflection, playfulness and adventure ...more
Κατηγορία "βιβλία που σου αλλάζουν τη ζωή".
Georges Perec explores and plays with language, space and mind. He writes while he thinks and thinks while he writes. The thoughts become words and words turn into thoughts again.
I can read Perec by few pages. I get caught in thoughts. Not his thoughts or sequence of thoughts, new thoughts. He works as a fresh kick as a catalysts for me. As jump leads for flatten batteries his words would get my mind working and get me back to works and thoughts I left behind.
Georges Perec is a wonderful French writer, who is also charming and funny as well. His obsession with crossword puzzles and games of all sorts is basically his aesthetic and the way he conveys his world in that medium is quite remarkable. This is a collection of his writings, and personally it's my favorite work of his. Nothing super grand, but I just really enjoyed this book.
The title essay and the one about jumping out of an airplane are more than worth the price of admission, but I found some of the pages a bit too cloyingly Perecian (ie, fascinated with the exquisite details of the world) and had to skip or skim. Will come back to this one whenever I need to luxuriate in highly detailed, intelligent, playful language.
Perec is a delight to read and is so witty. A very enjoyable book: I especially liked the Borgesian short story near the end. The only complaint I have with this book is the postcard chapter dedicated to Italo Calvino -- it was just a drag to read (similar to when he catalogs, like the time he tries to recall everything he consumed in 1974.)
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Who reads Perec? 4 27 Nov 27, 2013 06:28AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Can a super separate the main edition of a book? 3 29 Sep 14, 2012 12:15AM  
  • Oulipo Compendium
  • Georges Perec: A Life in Words
  • The Poetics of Reverie
  • Collezione di sabbia
  • The Flight of Icarus
  • Campo Santo
  • Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations
  • The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses
  • Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France, 1974-75
  • The Planetarium
  • The Erasers
  • Styles of Radical Will
  • Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature
  • Roland Barthes
  • That Mighty Sculptor, Time
  • Finding a Form
  • The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays
Georges Perec was a highly-regarded French novelist, filmmaker and essayist. He was a member of the Oulipo group. Many of his novels and essays abound with experimental wordplay, lists and attempts at classification, and they are usually tinged with melancholy.

Perec's first novel, Les Choses (Things: A Story of the Sixties) was awarded the Prix Renaudot in 1965.

In 1978, Perec won the prix Médicis
More about Georges Perec...
Life: A User's Manual A Void W, or the Memory of Childhood Things: A Story of the Sixties; A Man Asleep Les choses

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“Question your tea spoons.” 66 likes
“This is how space begins, with words only, signs traced on the blank page. To describe space: to name it, to trace it, like those portolano-makers who saturated the coastlines with the names of harbours, the names of capes, the names of inlets, until in the end the land was only separated from the sea by a continuous ribbon of text. Is the aleph, that place in Borges from which the entire world is visible simultaneously, anything other than an alphabet?” 17 likes
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