Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “La vita istruzioni per l'uso” as Want to Read:
La vita istruzioni per l'uso
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

La vita istruzioni per l'uso

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,461 Ratings  ·  385 Reviews
Un puzzle costruito intorno a una casa parigina, con i suoi inquilini, le sue stanze, gli oggetti, le azioni, i ricordi e le fantasticherie. Con un saggio di Italo Calvino e una conversazione di Georges Perec con Gabriel Simony.
Paperback, BUR - Scrittori Contemporanei, 572 pages
Published 2005 by Rizzoli (first published 1978)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about La vita istruzioni per l'uso, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Tony The character of Barlebooth travels the world for 20 years, painting watercolour pictures of ports. He sends these back to France to be converted into…moreThe character of Barlebooth travels the world for 20 years, painting watercolour pictures of ports. He sends these back to France to be converted into jigsaws. On his return, he solves the jigsaws and uses a chemical solution to 're-bind' them into paintings. Each painting, on the 20th anniversary of its creation, is dissolved, leaving only a white board. In short, he devotes his life to something that leaves absolutely no impression on the world.

There's slightly more to it than this, but I don't want to spoil things in case you ever read the book...(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 06, 2012 Megha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews, kickass

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 shr
Sep 05, 2012 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: infinite-books
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 centi ...more
Jun 17, 2008 Stacy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a pulse and a smidgen of curiosity and intelligence about the world.
Recommended to Stacy by: ryan platt
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 tha ...more

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 Médicis & 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.
Mar 14, 2014 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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 more at peace. It's like Beckett's sucking stones section in Molloy: elaborate, infinitely detailed processes ...more
Nick Craske
Jan 20, 2016 Nick Craske rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 seen...

This glorious, delectable visual feast of a novel, is constructed in the manner of an elaborate jigsaw puzzle. Perec’s canvas an
I went in search for this book when I was in France recently. My grandparents old house is like the Mary Celeste, frozen in time since their deaths some years ago, and is home to a dusty and unloved collection of French literature. Without much effort I found an old and well worn copy of Life A Users Manual by Perec. Finding this particular copy felt rather special, having been read by my grandmother, grandfather and father before me.

The novel is essentially an observation of life, of experienc
Paul Bryant
A pre-review

This 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-Pie
Nov 18, 2013 knig rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I used to be able to file a book without a rating: what happened? I don't want to give this book one or any stars: its not that its a bad book, its just not for me. I never liked Gabriel Garcia's 100 years nor Robert Altman's Short Cuts: the formula just doesn't do it for me: I can't take multiple narrative threads, hundreds of characters, all running around hither and thither like headless chickens till it does my head in and I don't know whats what, objects and stories and protags multiplying ...more
"Procuro ao mesmo tempo o eterno e o efémero."

No dia 23 de Junho de 1975, às 8 horas da noite, entrei no prédio a que corresponde o número 11 da Rua Simon-Crubellier em Paris. Observei salas, cozinhas, quartos, caves, e vi espaços e vidas de centenas de pessoas que de, alguma forma, estão ligadas umas às outras como se as suas vidas fossem um puzzle gigante composto de belas, infinitas e minúsculas peças.
Encantei-me, emocionei-me, deslumbrei-me, com as mais de 100 histórias de mais de 1000 pess
MJ Nicholls
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 E ...more
Now, I loved this book so why don't I recommend it to everyone? Let me try to tell you - this is a book about the people who live (or have lived) in an appartment building in Paris in the 20th century. Their lives and stories twist and tangle and intertwine and breaks up again. Every part of the book is valued equal - that means, that a chaper can be a list of objects found on the staircase and another - just as important! - chapter can be the story of how the daughter of one of the residents go ...more
Aug 27, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who exists
Many people misinterpret nihilism as only a negative or cynical approach to life and to the cosmos. But with "Life: A User's Manual" (LAUM) I sense that Georges Perec is approaching nihilism as a very positive, creative force of being. LAUM accepts our essential nothingness, but revels in the process that takes place between the birth nothing and the death nothing. We are able to exercise an exuberant free will, bouncing around within the framework of those two framing events of birth and death ...more
Jan 28, 2014 Jonfaith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simultaneously so massive and yet so minute, allow a quick consulting of your Anti-Oedipus and then bring this to resolution. This novel brought considerable warmth and a curious attention to matters. Much like black bean hummus. Don't eat this book. Such requires a chuckle as I type.
Vit Babenco
Nov 12, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life: A User's Manual is the absolute and fundamental treatise on the theme of jigsaw puzzles where every chapter is a piece in a puzzle – a fragment of a house, a tessera of the cosmic mosaic.
“The room’s walls are painted in white gloss. Several framed posters are hanging on them. One of them depicts four greedy-looking monks sitting at table around a Camembert cheese on the label of which four greedy-looking monks – the very same – are again at table around, etc. The scene is repeated distinct
May 03, 2014 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you read a book at the perfect time. This is simultaneously the perfect book for winter binge reading and also the perfect book for fifteen minutes bus rides at the beginning and end of the day.

One could argue that there is some overarching/subterranean narrative tying this whole behemoth of a novel together - people grab onto the Bartlebooth saga with the jigsaw puzzles and the landscape water colors - but in truth this book is a compendium of wide-ranging stories all containing some
Il rischio più grande, per un'opera così ambiziosa, è che si innamori della propria struttura, trascurando il contenuto: dopotutto questo libro è ambientato, sì, in un condominio parigino; ma lo si esplora locale per locale - dal bagno di un appartamento alle cantine, alle scale di servizio, a una sala da pranzo, all'ascensore, alle camere di servizio e così via - seguendo le mosse del cavallo nel gioco degli scacchi per coprire tutta la scacchiera, visitando ogni casella (tranne una, in questo ...more
Apr 21, 2016 ΑνναΦ rated it it was amazing
La catalogazione, l'elenco e l'elenco della spesa! (della cantina, della dispensa, del salone) elevati a delizia narrativa. Mai, mai avrei immaginato di divertirmi, incantarmi e perdermi così tanto leggendo elenchi di cose e frattali di vite. Il libro non è di facile approccio, se non si è fruitori della letteratura postmoderna... che ha in Pynchon il suo sommo vate e in Amis un suo valido seguace, sarà perché entrambi, a suo tempo, mi son piaciuti, che anche lo scoglio Perec è stato virato sen ...more
Oct 20, 2010 Kathleen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Abandoning novels feels sort of cruel, like letting a whole bunch of people just fade out of your life without trying hard enough to get to know them, so generally speaking if I get past the first chapter I won't give up on a novel. It does happen though: Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire and Marcel Proust’s The Guermantes Way come to mind, so at least my abandoned novels are fairly diverse. With regret, 200 pages in, I’m adding George Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual to the melancholy little li ...more
Adam Floridia
What is this book? It’s a picture. A picture cut into pieces—like a jigsaw puzzle—for the reader to reassemble. They say “a picture is worth 1,000 words”? Well, Perec’s picture is worth approximately 238,560 words (I counted the words on one page and multiplied by the number of pages, hence the “approximately). So what is this massive picture? Well, it’s
(view spoiler)
Oct 04, 2015 Ingrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finito di leggere mi appresto a scrivere due righe qua e mi vengono in mente solo aggettivi: originale, bizzarro, rigoroso, straordinario.
Ma proprio letteralmente, fuori dall'ordinario.
Perché chi mai si prenderebbe la briga di scrivere per 500 e passa pagine di un palazzo di dieci piani e dei suoi cento appartamenti. Chi mai si metterebbe a descrivere gli arredi, la disposizione degli oggetti nelle case, tic, vizi e virtù delle persone che le abitano, andando a costruire cento enormi piccoli fra

The painter and collage-ist Robert Rauschenberg came of age during the heyday of abstract expressionism in the New York scene; and while his own work involves a similar level of abstraction (as, for example, 1954's Charlene, pictured above), he often found himself at odds with the dominant rhetoric of the "tortured artist." "There was something about the self-confession and self-confusion of abstract expressionism," he says, "that personally always put me off."

There was a whole language that I
Oct 18, 2015 Simona rated it really liked it
Il fatto che questo libro sia ambientato a Parigi gli conferisce, a mio avviso, alcuni punti a favore.
Ma non è solo la capitale francese a raccogliere consensi, è molto di più.
Leggendolo si ha la sensazione di quanto Perec si sia divertito a scriverlo, a progettarlo e a idearlo.
Partendo da un condominio, lo scrittore analizza ogni camera, ogni stanza, ogni inquilino fino a formare i 99 capitoli o sarebbe meglio dire le 99 stanze facenti parte del condominio.
Ciò che colpisce è la maniacalità, l'o
Dec 28, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have to make it through the first 50 pages, which are heavy sledding. But then, somehow, it took off (for me, at least).

Which surprised the hell out of me, to be honest. Because normally I just can't abide descriptions of furniture, and rooms and stuff -- I tend to skim right over it. Perec spends an inordinate amount of space in describing the furnishings, when he's not making up amusingly wacky lists, or telling another shaggy dog story about some guy getting fleeced or murdered or jilted
May 11, 2012 Conor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
Well, hi there Goodreads! How have you been? It’s been about five months since I’ve reviewed a book. Hopefully that’ll be understandable after the following review.

First off, I’ve been writing an essay. Writing slows down my reading. That’ll be important below.

I’m going to use one of those little spoiler cut lines here. This is my idea of irony, because there’s no plot to spoil, since there's no plot at all. Oh, there's characters, and places, but if forty pages were missing from your copy, you
Miloš Kostić
Mar 06, 2016 Miloš Kostić rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Najneobičniji roman koji sam pročitao i možda najoriginalniji, krajnje zanimljivo iskustvo. Roman-slagalica. Na naslovnoj strani nas čeka podnaslov "Romani" i to nam pokazuje da nas očekuje mnogo različitih linija priče. Ideja je da se opišu životi svih, sadašnjih i bivših stanara jedne zgrade u Parizu. To je učinjeno kroz stotinak kratkih poglavlja u kojima se ukrštaju razne najčešće nepovezane priče i anegdote iz života ovih ljudi. Neki likovi su povezani međusobno, mnogi se pojavljuju samo na ...more
George Berguño
May 31, 2013 George Berguño rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nine years in the making, Life: A User’s Manual won the Prix Médicis in 1978 and established Georges Perec’s reputation as one of the world’s great narrative prose stylists. But, to our great loss, Perec died in 1982 at the age of forty-six.

Life: A User’s Manual is widely considered to be a novel, despite the book’s subtitle (“Fictions”). Yet I have decided to review this book as part of my series on the “Neglected Masters of the Short Story.” Why? Because, having read Perec’s masterpiece twice
Apr 02, 2008 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are nuances and games and crazy endeavors I'm sure I can't begin to understand. The premise is wonderful and specific, then tangents into little gnats that buzz around and infest one ear, colonize, and read the story to you but you try to shut them out for trying to read the story to them, which turns out to be about what you all were doing before you tried to read the story to each other. I refuse to finish the book just for the sake of keeping the gnats in my ear, and so I can re-read it ...more

*I wrote a great review for this, but then I dismantled it word by word, succumbing to the pull of the blank canvas.
Tanuj Solanki
(Appeared as an article in The New Indian Express)

In Paris, the Rue Georges Perec etches the name of one of the greatest fiction writers ever on the cartography of the city. It is a tiny walkway, with a couple of sets of stairs and charming municipal lights. Located in a residential area in the XXth arrondissement (admin district), it seems like a street preferred by the gentry.

I pieced together such information from web searches as I began rereading Perec’s masterpiece, Life: A User’s Manual. T
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Exercises in Style
  • The Opposing Shore
  • Locus Solus
  • Oulipo Compendium
  • Bouvard and Pecuchet
  • Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician
  • The Great Fire of London: A Story with Interpolations and Bifurcations
  • The Erasers
  • Death Sentence
  • Capital of Pain
  • The Devil in the Flesh
  • The Ogre
  • Autoportrait
  • The Horseman on the Roof
  • Moravagine
  • The Book of Monelle
  • Novels in Three Lines
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...

Share This Book

“From this, one can make a deduction which is quite certainly the ultimate truth of jigsaw puzzles: despite appearances, puzzling is not a solitary game: every move the puzzler makes, the puzzlemaker 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.” 17 likes
“I have neither one nor the other, and that has been going on for so long now that I have stopped wondering whether it is hate or love which gives us the strength to continue this life of lies, which provides the formidable energy that allows us to go on suffering, and hoping.” 6 likes
More quotes…