jeremy's Reviews > A Thousand Pearls

A Thousand Pearls by Hervé Le Tellier
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May 31, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: translation, fiction
Read from May 31 to June 01, 2011

composed of a thousand different answers to the same question asked as many times ("penny for them?"), a thousand pearls (for a thousand pennies) is a charming glimpse into the profundity and banality of one man's random thoughts. hervé le tellier, french writer and member of oulipo (along with the book's translator, ian monk), has crafted a book that is at once charming, humorous, poignant, doleful, humble, witty, and self-effacing. a thousand pearls veers into the realm of both the lofty and the commonplace, relaying le tellier's thoughts on age, women, sex, love, death, war, career, books, and the many other random ideas that occur to one throughout the procession of days.

penny for them?

i was thinking how jazz has its duke, and its count, too, but only literature has its marquis.

penny for them?

i was thinking how "waking up at night and getting your eyes used to the dark" might be a definition of existence.

penny for them?

i was thinking that, just at the moment when the bomb exploded over their heads, the inhabitants of hiroshima were eating, taking a bath, phoning, or writing, just like me right now.

penny for them?

i was thinking that it's certainly not with a book like this that i'll win the prix goncourt.

penny for them?

i was thinking that the problem with smart people is that they waste too much time wondering if idiots are a little bit right, too.

penny for them?

i was thinking that if you read one book a week, that makes about three thousand in a lifetime, and they're inevitably not the right ones.

penny for them?

i was thinking that there'd be far fewer people at military parades if they also put trucks full of cadavers, followed by widows and orphans, just behind the tanks.

penny for them?

i was thinking that, what with inflation, these pearls must be worth far more than a penny each.

penny for them?

i was thinking that, sure, i feel great with you right here and now, but if you could shift over a bit, that would be great, too, because i've lost all feeling in my right arm.

penny for them?

i was thinking that i'm like everyone else, i like humanity more than i like people.

penny for them?

i was thinking that i often hesitate before speaking about myself, fearing that the person i'm talking to will then think it's okay to talk about themselves too.

penny for them?

i was thinking that, when i hold an open book and i can feel blood beating in the tips of my fingers, i can sometimes imagine that it's the book which is alive.

penny for them?

i was thinking that many people who are proud of having made it on their own would have done better to ask for help.

penny for them

i was thinking that it's worse not to do good consciously than to do ill without realizing it.

penny for them?

i was thinking that, personally, i prefer to live with remorse than regrets.

penny for them?

i was thinking that i'm not quite sure if this text, which obeys at least one constraint, mentions that constraint, in conformity with roubaud's principle.
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