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Life: A User's Manual

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Life: A User's Manual is an unclassified masterpiece, a sprawling compendium as encyclopedic as Dante's Commedia and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and, in its break with tradition, as inspiring as Joyce's Ulysses. 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 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 formulae. All are there for the reader to solve in the best tradition of the detective novel.

581 pages, Paperback

First published May 15, 1978

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About the author

Georges Perec

160 books1,339 followers
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.

Born in a working-class district of Paris, Perec was the only son of Icek Judko and Cyrla (Schulewicz) Peretz, Polish Jews who had emigrated to France in the 1920s. He was a distant relative of the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz.

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 for Life: A User's Manual (French title, La Vie mode d'emploi), possibly his best-known work. The 99 chapters of this 600 page piece move like a knight's tour of a chessboard around the room plan of a Paris apartment building, describing the rooms and stairwell and telling the stories of the inhabitants.

Cantatrix Sopranica L. is a spoof scientific paper detailing experiments on the "yelling reaction" provoked in sopranos by pelting them with rotten tomatoes. All the references in the paper are multi-lingual puns and jokes, e.g. "(Karybb et Scyla, 1973)".

Perec is also noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". It has been translated into English by Gilbert Adair under the title A Void (1994). The silent disappearance of the letter might be considered a metaphor for the Jewish experience during the Second World War. Since the name 'Georges Perec' is full of 'e's, the disappearance of the letter also ensures the author's own 'disappearance'.

His novella Les revenentes (1972) is a complementary univocalic piece in which the letter "e" is the only vowel used. This constraint affects even the title, which would conventionally be spelt Revenantes. An English translation by Ian Monk was published in 1996 as The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex in the collection Three.

It has been remarked by Jacques Roubaud that these two novels draw words from two disjoint sets of the French language, and that a third novel would be possible, made from the words not used so far (those containing both "e" and a vowel other than "e").

W ou le souvenir d'enfance, (W, or, the Memory of Childhood, 1975) is a semi-autobiographical work which is hard to classify. Two alternating narratives make up the volume: one, a fictional outline of a totalitarian island country called "W", patterned partly on life in a concentration camp; and the second, descriptions of childhood. Both merge towards the end when the common theme of the Holocaust is explained.

Perec was a heavy smoker throughout his life, and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1981. He died the following year in Ivry-sur-Seine at only forty-five-years old. His ashes are held at the columbarium of the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

David Bellos wrote an extensive biography of Perec: Georges Perec: A Life in Words, which won the Académie Goncourt's bourse for biography in 1994.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 819 reviews
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,400 reviews3,279 followers
January 10, 2022
Riddles, conundrums, charades, puzzles…
Life: A User’s Manual is a highly intellectual, 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 distinctly four times over.

Infinity: stairs and rooms, furniture and articles, pictures inside pictures, stories within stories, epistles, fables, lists of anything that can ever be listed, tableaux vivants and still lifes constructed out of words…
To begin with, the art of jigsaw puzzles seems of little substance, easily exhausted, wholly dealt with by a basic introduction to Gestalt: the perceived object – we may be dealing with a perceptual act, the acquisition of a skill, a physiological system, or, as in the present case, a wooden jigsaw puzzle – is not a sum of elements to be distinguished from each other and analysed discretely, but a pattern, that is to say a form, a structure: the element’s existence does not precede the existence of the whole, it comes neither before nor after it, for the parts do not determine the pattern, but the pattern determines the parts: knowledge of the pattern and of its laws, of the set and its structure, could not possibly be derived from discrete knowledge of the elements that compose it.

The whole is always more than the simple sum of its parts and by this metaphysical law, the tiny and miscellaneous elements of narration finally add up into the extravagant encyclopedia of life and art and fate.
Profile Image for Paul.
Author 1 book92 followers
May 5, 2020
Let’s be clear from the outset, ‘Life a User’s Manual’ is my favourite book of all time. It's everything a novel should or ever could be. Big characters, ripping yarns, wonderful descriptions, word play, structural experimentation and a sad truth at its heart...

It’s an existentialist work, in essence, tempered by its humanitarian outlook, but a book nonetheless about the pointlessness of human endeavour. The labours of the many characters contained here generally come to naught.

And it’s a book about entropy. At its core is the tale of Bartlebooth, his project of a lifetime and those whose services he enlists to enable him to bring about its completion. As a young man with a private income, he conceives a fifty year plan to fill his days: ten years to become a watercolourist, twenty years travelling the world to paint five hundred harbour scenes, twenty years to complete the jigsaw puzzles he will have made from them. Entropy enters when each re-assembled seascape is glued back together then rinsed of its colour and returned to a blank sheet of paper.

Entropy ripples out from Bartlebooth, from the pointlessness of his life’s work to the retinue he employs. Winckler is the jigsaw-maker who turns Bartlebooth’s paintings into puzzles. Thirty years in, with his part in the plan complete, Winckler must fill his days too. A prodigiously gifted craftsman, he wastes away his time making devil’s rings then witch’s mirrors, until at last housebound, he re-arranges the collection of hotel labels Bartlebooth’s butler, Smautf, has sent him. “It’s not just hard… it’s useless,” he comments. Morrelet, whose job it is to glue the jigsaws back together, claims to have worked in many capacities previously. When he loses three fingers in an experiment and can no longer work for Bartlebooth, he carries out experiments to make remedies, none of which work. The highlight now of his and Winckler’s day is the belligerent game of Backgammon they contest at Riri’s café-tabac.

As far as possible, Bartlebooth seeks to install his helpers in the apartment building where he lives. And so, arguably, 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier is the novel’s other principal character. Valène is the artist who teaches Bartlebooth to paint. He is also Perec’s conduit, to an extent. He conceives of a painting that will show all of the rooms at the front of No. 11, a sort of cutaway revealing the lives of the residents therein. And this is what Perec seeks to achieve in the novel, succeeding spectacularly, in my view. It seems that while entropy affects its inhabitants, the building is immune – the Plassaerts buy Morrelet’s apartment to improve their pied-a-terre, Winckler’s apartment is about to be renovated as a des-res… But Valène moves from his reflection on removal men and undertakers to imagining the building’s eventual demolition to make way for a vast residential/commercial development with no trace remaining. In the end, everything returns to dust.

Cinoc is another cypher for Perec. No one knows how to pronounce his surname (in the absence of diacritics) and he works for Larousse, keeping dictionaries/encyclopaedias up to date by “killing” words rather than looking for neologisms, consigning entries to oblivion/extinction. Thus his life’s work is the inverse of Bartlebooth’s, and by extension that of Perec. He starts with encyclopaedia entries, spending 53 years erasing them, then spends ten years going through old books compiling 8000 potential entries of lost esoterica for a “dictionary of forgotten words”.

The story of Carel van Loorens seems, to me, emblematic of the intertextuality at work within the novel. It’s a digression that has nothing to do with No. 11 and its story. It just so happens that a boy is reading Loorens’ biography on the stairs. It tips the nod to Calvino, having van Loorens tell his Barbary pirate host, Hokab el-Ouakt, about the cities he has visited in return for his hospitality in his palace. It’s a ripping yarn set in Arabia, reminiscent of ‘The 1001 Arabian Nights’, which of course ‘Life a User’s Manual’ resembles.

Fans of the book like to list their favourite digressions. Why should I be an exception? So among others, there’s Blunt Stanley, Ingeborg Skrifter and the 83 appearances of Mephisto; the anthropologist, Marcel Appenzzell, and his doomed quest to live with the Orang-Kubu; the diplomat, Sven Ericsson, and his all-consuming thirst for revenge on Elizabeth de Beaumont; the acrobat who wouldn’t come down from his perch (The Baron on Trapeze?); Carel van Loorens seeking to rescue Ursula von Littau from the harem of the Barbary pirate, Hokab el-Ouakt. These tales are forever mirroring one another, casting their mutual light and reflecting the author’s project and the methods he employs.

Sometimes it’s hard to articulate why a book resonates with you so much. For me, it’s the vast reach of the imagination at work here and the depth of its creativity, the extent to which Perec realises his imaginary world, his vaulting ambition. There’s the humour and also its humanity and human insights. Then there’s the brilliance of the storytelling – and some of the digressions are fantastic in both senses – and the evocation of place. The story behind its construction - the knight’s tour and so on - adds another layer of enjoyment.

It’s hard not to feel put out when others dismiss a book you value, or in this case, value most of all. And so I understand the indignation of admirers when they see ‘Kafka on the Shore’, say, or ‘Lord of the Rings’ under attack, even though I have little time for either book. Yes, the relentless microscopic descriptions in ‘Life a User’s Manual’ can sometimes be boring and there are so many characters that it’s sometimes difficult to remember who’s who… It can appear pedantic and obscure. Word of the book is undoubtedly “heteroclite”. Its use once in an oeuvre would be enough, but three times in one novel? And some of the punning isn’t funny at all, but I suspect this is a reflection of the difficulties of translation.

‘Life a User’s Manual’ can be seen as a novella about Bartlebooth and his project with an essentially unrelated series of short stories and apartment descriptions bolted on. But since the book is also the story of the building, it coheres. And after all, Perec subtitles his work ‘Novels’ or ‘Fictions’, depending on your chosen translation. Overall, it’s a towering achievement, a Santa’s grotto full of treats to which you can return time and again, never exhausting its possibilities. RIP, GP.

- - - - -

Update – May 2020

Life is a long book and this is the fourth (and a half) time I’ve read it. It gives rise to a question, pertinent here on Goodreads. When I was around twenty I read a book about reading. The author’s name eludes me now but he argued that readers divide into two sorts – those who read a smaller number of books deeply and those who read widely. Which sort of reader should one be, then? If like me you have to earn a living - I like to write a little too - then time is constrained. Life is the sort of book that asks much from the reader, demanding that you spend less time with other books if the two of you are really going to get to know each other. But there’s a whole constellation of books out there just waiting to be read! I'm tending towards the former, at present. Such a dilemma…

The vignettes scrolled past me with that delightful familiarity, fulfilling anticipation– James Sherwood and the quest for the Holy Vase containing Jesus’s blood, Marcel Appenzzel and the search for the Orang-Kubus, Paul Hébert and his doomed love for Laetizia Grifalconi… Another reviewer here describes Life as his desert island read (a reference to Desert Island Discs, I’m assuming). As I mentioned in one of my updates, in French editions the subtitle romans is employed, translating as either fictions or novels. And that’s the point here; with Perec’s masterwork, you get many books for the price of one. That reviewer has skewered the truth of it; Life is the perfect book should you happen to find yourself shipwrecked on Tetepare or Aldabra.

This time around, it seemed that all of Perec’s industry pointed to the futility of artistic endeavour. Serge Valène took on a central role through the painting of 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier he plans to execute with the façade removed, showing each apartment and its occupants concerned with their daily existence (inevitably, the old painter has barely begun the enterprise when death takes him). It’s Perec’s own project too, of course. Valène imagines the life of the building and its impermanence, how it might be razed/erased to make way for a new luxury development. And this brings to mind the futility of Bartlebooth’s project. But Perec’s labours were not in vain. In his meditation on mortality and meaninglessness, he has left us his ageless book. Thirty-eight years after his death, his masterwork lives on. It leads me to a melancholy thought of sorts. Both Bartlebooth and Valène die with their projects incomplete. Did Perec have some kind of intimation that he wouldn’t be given the time to complete the works he had planned for us?
Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,176 followers
September 5, 2012
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 centimeter using these constraints. If Perec wrote no other book than this he would deservedly be considered a genius. The best novel of the 1970’s? Last half of the 20th century? I don’t know, but I’d put it in the running. Let’s argue about this heatedly in a 5 page comment thread. Or not. But there is an entire world come to life in these 600 pages, heavily populated, intricate, seething, over-full, all generated from the minute exploration of the individual living quarters in an apartment building on a fictional street in Paris. 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier, imaginary Paris, arrondissment Georges Perec.

One of my absolute favorite films is Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. The main cinematic technique that lends the film its particular rhythm is the “slow zoom out”. A scene begins with the camera focused very closely on one or two subjects or objects, and then is slowly pulled back, maintaining a deep-field focus, deliberately and quietly minimizing the subjects within the frame of the screen, showing the size and composition of the world in which they are contained. There is a similar literary strategy at play in Life. Chapters usually begin with a few paragraphs describing in great detail objects in a particular room- paintings, furniture, appliances, clothing, knick-knacks, etc.- and then those objects are slowly “zoomed” away from, and the story is told of the inhabitants of those rooms, or of someone associated with those objects or the place in which those objects rest. The feeling evoked is similar in Barry Lyndon and Life, the tight focus on minutiae and then the slow revealing of its place in an immense story. Though there is a crucial difference. Kubrick’s technique was employed to show a thing’s limitations within a space; Perec’s technique is employed to show their resonance; how these small, almost indifferent things are the clues left behind that, when worked through, piece together immense worlds.

So much of this book is lists of objects, beautifully described. Objects, which so readily accumulate the patina of time, which often outlive us, which stay where we leave them, signifiers of who we are, were, wanted to be- those versions of ourselves we discarded out of need or necessity or on a whim, what we sloughed off but couldn’t bring ourselves to throw away. Keepsakes of our affinities. Objects, whose arrangement in our lives is like the finger trace left in a film of dust on an old desk, the proof we came this way, did this or that. These can be things as simple as our socks and old photographs, souvenirs of voyages, or as complex as novels we write, the family trees we form a branch of. The way we arrange objects, and the objects we choose to keep around us, speak volumes of our interior lives. These lists of objects that make up so much of Life are the great part the characterizations of the people who make up this book. But lists of objects work in another way, too. Lists draw attention only to themselves. They leave the signifier untouched by a narrative purpose. Purposeless, they speak to the meaning of the word as it is written, and give only that meaning. By serving no purpose in a narrative, an object of pure description survives the various ways a story can be dragged into oblivion by the words employed in its telling. It is the thing itself. A book made up of lists is therefore an undying book, giving meaning only in and of itself and the objects it names. However, the objects in Life don’t sit there unattached to narrative, they initiate the endless narratives. Apart and interwoven, Perec has reconciled the solitary object with the relic of time (its “story”), by leaving the things accumulated as starting points of their own histories. So Life is both Flaubert’s ideal “book about nothing”, while simultaneously satisfying Queneau’s idea that all novels reflect either the Iliad or the Odyssey. A book of nothings and everythings; of things immobile as well as lives unfurling.

Life is such a generous book, it gives so much, its complexities always yielding to some basic joy, its ironies giving insights, its tragedies so beautiful, its mysteries so delightful, its intelligence steeped in playfulness, its erudition serving such human ends. 1,001 Parisian Nights. Another infinite novel.

“Sometimes Valène had the feeling that time had been stopped, suspended, frozen around he didn’t know what expectation. The very idea of the picture he planned to do and whose laid-out, broken-up images had begun to haunt every second of his life, furnishing his dreams, squeezing his memories, the very idea of this shattered building laying bare the cracks of its past, the crumbling of the present, this unordered amassing of stories grandiose and trivial, frivolous and pathetic, gave him the impression of a grotesque mausoleum raised in the memory of companions petrified in terminal postures as insignificant in their solemnity as they were in their ordinariness, as if he had wanted both to warn of and to delay these slow or quick deaths which seemed to be engulfing the entire building storey by storey. Monsieur Marcia, Madame Moreau, Madame de Beaumont, Bartlebooth, Rorschach, Mademoiselle Crespi, Madame Albin, Smautf. And himself, of course, Valène himself, the longest inhabitant of the house.”
February 9, 2021
Πεντάστερη κριτική αξιολόγηση και όλα τα αστεροκοπεία μαζί σου, αγαπημένε, πειραματικέ και πρωτότυπε, αρχισαδιστή, Ζωρζ Περέκ, διότι σου παραδίνομαι
- όχι αμαχητί - αφού δεν κατάφερα μετά απο πολλές μέρες και νύχτες που περάσαμε μαζί να έχω τη δυνατότητα να μεταφέρω τη γοητεία και την ευφυϊέστατη πονηριά της ιδιοφυΐας της γραφής και της δημιουργικής κατασκευής της αρχιτεκτονικής σου πεζογραφίας.
Τεκτονικής λογοτεχνίας χτισίματος βάσει εγχειριδίου χρήστη που πρέπει να μάθει απλά, λιτά, απέριττα να ζει, είτε υπάρχει είτε όχι.
Κάπου εδώ οι οδηγίες χρήσης φαίνονται κάτι παραπάνω απο αναγκαίες διότι μας προσφέρεις πολλά ταξίδια χωρίς άφιξη.

Και έψαξα και βρήκα :
Το Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) ιδρύθηκε το 1960 ως μια ομάδα Γάλλων συγγραφέων και μαθηματικών που ενδιαφέρθηκαν να γράψουν κάτι που ήταν περιορισμένο. Μπορούμε να ξεχωρίσουμε δύο βασικές τάσεις του κινήματος. Η μία είναι προς την Ανάλυση και η άλλη προς τη Σύνθεση.
Στην πρώτη περίπτωση, ξαναδουλεύονται έργα του παρελθόντος με σκοπό να βρεθούν δυνατότητες που συχνά υπερβαίνουν τα όσα προσδοκούσαν οι συγγραφείς τους.
Στη δεύτερη περίπτωση -που είναι και η πιο φιλόδοξη- στόχος είναι η δημιουργία νέων λογοτεχνικών κατευθύνσεων.

Τα μαθηματικά -πιο συγκεκριμένα, οι αφηρημένες δομές των σύγχρονων μαθηματικών- προσφέρουν χιλιάδες κατευθύνσεις διερεύνησης τόσο μέσω της Άλγεβρας (νέοι κανόνες σύνθεσης) όσο και μέσω της Τοπολογίας (νέοι τρόποι ανοίγματος και κλεισίματος ενός κειμένου). Νέοι τρόποι να βασανίζεσαι διαβάζοντας ένα τέτοιο έργο και να σ’αρέσει.

Αυτοί οι περιορισμοί περιελάμβαναν λιπογράμματα (εκτός από ένα ή περισσότερα γράμματα), palindromes (όπου το κείμενο διαβάζει το ίδιο προς τα πίσω ή προς τα εμπρός) και χρησιμοποιώντας τις κινήσεις του ιππότη στο σκάκι. Προφανώς αυτό το βιβλίο βασίζεται σε πλέγμα 10 έως 10 που αντιστοιχεί στην πολυκατοικία που περιγράφει. Αυτό συνδυάζεται με ένα σύνολο λιστών από μια μαθηματική εξίσωση που ονομάζεται
Graeco-Latin square».
Υπάρχει ένα σχηματικό σχέδιο μιας σελίδας, του κτιρίου, στη σελίδα 541 το οποίο είναι μια χρήσιμη αναφορά. Πρόκειται για ένα σχεδιάγραμμα του κτιρίου όπου οι προηγούμενοι ένοικοι σημειώνονται με πλάγια γράμματα.
Πόσα έργα μυθοπλασίας έχουν ένα ευρετήριο, πόσο μάλλον ένα ευρετήριο 59 περίπου σελίδων; Κάθε κεφάλαιο περιγράφει μια τοποθεσία και έχει το όνομα του κατοίκου του διαμερίσματος στο παρελθόν, το παρόν και το μέλλον.
Η πολυκατοικία που αναφέρεται είναι σαν όνειρο μέσα σε όνειρο ονείρου, που ονειρεύονται όσοι κοιμούνται, και βλέπουν, ζουν, εμπειρικά και βιωματικά, πραγματικά, όσοι ξυπνούν.
Όσοι δεν πιστεύουν στα αφιερωμένα κατάστιχα.
Όσοι φλερτάρουν μόνο με τους υπέρμαχους που δεν συναινούν να υπάρχει λογοτεχνία με περιορισμούς
ή αν υπάρξει να ανήκει σε καθιερωμένες μορφές γραφής.

Μοιάζει στα αλήθεια με ένα υπερτέλειας γλυπτικής παγόβουνο.
Στην εικόνα πάνω απο την στάθμη του νερού μπορείς να δεις, να φανταστείς, να σκεφτείς, να ονειρευτείς,
να συγκρίνεις, να θαυμάσεις, να συνηθίσεις όλες τις ανθρώπινες μικροπρέπειες.
Όλα τα υπαρξιακά, - κάτω από τη στάθμη του νερού-πολιτικά, ταξικά, οικουμενικά, καλλιτεχνικά, οικογενειακά, ερωτικά, φιλικά, πειραματικά, πραγματικά, λεπτομερειακά, περιγραφικά, διαστροφικά, σεξουαλικά, συγγενικά, αταβιστικά, εξακολουθητικά γεγονότα ή στιγμιαία λάθη και πάθη, ζωές που δεν τις έζησαν, θανάτους που δεν τους απολύτρωσαν απο τις τραγικές φυλακίσεις της ζωής.

Ναι, με ζόρισες, σε ζόρισα, με ζόρισες, αλλά νικάει πάντα ο επιμένων. Επέμενα να υπομείνω να το ζήσω με όλες τις αισθήσεις μου ένα σύγχρονο 1001 Νύχτες σε αυτό το έργο του Perec.
Εδώ που ο δημιουργός χρησιμοποιεί τη δομή του μυθιστορήματός του για δεκάδες διηγήματα σχετικά με ένα εκπληκτικό καστ χαρακτήρων, όλοι επικεντρωμένοι σε μια μοναδική φανταστική πολυκατοικία στο Παρίσι σε μια συγκεκριμένη στιγμή, λίγο πριν από τις 8 μ.μ. στις 23 Ιουνίου, 1975.
Ναι. Αυτό είναι. Απίστευτο; Ναι.
Μα τόσο φαντασμαγορικό και ταξιδιάρικο. Τόσο πολύ απλό που γίνεται πολυσύνθετο και βασανίζει μυαλά και πνεύματα.

«Η στροφή έγινε το 1966 με το κάλεσμα του  Jacques Roubaud από τον Queneau. Πρόκειται για μία συμβολική επιλογή αφού ο πρώτος, στην πρώτη του συλλογή που εκδόθηκε με τον τίτλο:?, είχε καταφέρει να θέσει όλες τις μαθηματικές του γνώσεις στην υπηρεσία της λογοτεχνίας;»
«Τα επόμενα δώδεκα χρόνια που ακολούθησαν το εργαστήρι απορροφούσε συνέχεια κόσμο. Οφείλουμε να αναφέρουμε τους: Georges Perec που εντάχθηκε στο κίνημα το 1967,το Marcel Benabou και το Luc Etienne το 1969, τον Paul Fournel το 1971, το Harry Mathews και τον Italo Calvino το 1973 και τέλος η Michele Metail το 1975».

«Αναζητώ ταυτόχρονα το αιώνιο και το εφήμερο».

Ο χρονολογικός πίνακας τούτου του έπους αρχίζει το 1833. Το 1875 γίνεται η κατάτμηση σε οικόπεδα της οδού Σιμόν-Κρυμπελλιέ και το 1885 ο Λυμπέν Ωζέρ τελειώνει την ανέγερση αυτής της πολυκατοικίας που στοιχειώνει μέχρι το 1975 ζώντες και τεθνεότες φωνάζωντας με πειραματικά και παιγνιώδη μέσα αναμετάδοσης μια μαγική Αφιέρωση χωρίς αφιέρωση,

«Κοίτα με όλα σου τα μάτια, Κοίτα»

Και ήταν φορές που είχες την εντύπωση πως ο χρόνος ανεστάλη, πέτρωσε γύρω απο κάποια προσδοκία που δεν προσδιορίζεται πια. Σαν ένας πίνακας ζωγραφικής με περίοπτα θραύσματα εικόνων. Εικόνες που στοίχειωναν κάθε στιγμή της ζωής ενοικώντας τα όνειρα, εκμαιεύονταν μνήμες, μα πάντα η κεντρική ιδέα ήταν το πλαίσιο μιας ξεκοιλιασμένης πολυκατοικίας που αναδεικνύει τις παρελθοντικές ρωγμές της και την τωρινή της κατάρρευση, μιας συσσώρευσης ιστοριών εγκιβωτισμένων, φαινομενικά προφανώς χωρίς αλληλουχία, ασήμαντων μαι μεγαλόπρεπων στιγμών, για γέλια, για κλάματα, σαν την εικόνα ενός γκροτέσκου μαυσωλείου, χτισμένο στην μνήμη κομπάρσων της ύπαρξη τους.
Κομπάρσων που απολιθώθηκαν σε τελευταίες στάσεις το ίδιο ασήμαντες με την επισημότητα τους όσο και στην καθημερινότητα. Μια καθημερινότητα που έπασχε για να προλάβει και να καθυστερήσει ταυτόχρονα τον θάνατο που αργά ή γρήγορα θα καταβρόχθιζε όροφο τον όροφο όλη την πολυκατοικία με τους ενοίκους της Και τότε πλημμύριζε μια αβάσταχτη θλίψη για εκείνους που είχαν ήδη φύγει, που τους είχε καταπιεί η ζωή ή ο θάνατος.


Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς και σεμνούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Stacy.
21 reviews37 followers
June 17, 2008
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 that a truly gifted writer extends themselves when creating a masterful piece of literature.

listening to rushdie, i realized i'd been having flings with lots of small novellas that required really nothing of me as a reader. they were passably enjoyable, in many cases i had become familiar with the writer's style and their cadence and this familiarity is pleasing to a reader, but i really hadn't sunk my teeth into anything that required of me any more than an ability to read. not that i needed to tackle the canon, whatever that was, but that life is short, man, and there are some amazing, nuanced, change-your-life tomes out there and i'd been avoiding them.

so that in mind, i tore through rushdie's midnight's children (which entirely delivered on that front), and then cast about looking for the "what next."

having a partner that majored in french literature is always handy in such situations. he recommended this novel. i let it fester on my bookshelf for a while (if 600 pages isn't intimidating, i don't know what is), and then finally put it in my suitcase to take back with me to berlin (where i am living/working remotely for a stretch).

the novel is honestly, one of the most amazing things i have ever read. you are given many stories within the bindings, and many lifetimes. the novel takes you through the lives of all the inhabitants in an 1960's walk-up flat in paris, but with a difference. the rooms, the ephemera and the stories of each of these people carry equal importance throughout the novel, and while epic, it is not the traditional epic narrative of one or two family's lives. in the back of the book, preceding a rather fantastic index, is an architectural floorplan of the building, to which i found myself referring to in every story. each block stands for one person's abode, and often in italics above the current resident is the name of the previous long-term tenant. the stories of the lives of those in the building will leave you slack-jawed. you will wonder about the lives of those you know passingly or not at all, those that you encounter closely or obliquely in your everyday life. there are no morals or moralizing in this tome, and you will find yourself often on the heels of yet another impossibly captivating read about the details of one of the tenant's lives, and then immediately be cast into three pages discussing three paintings hanging on a wall in another apartment.

this last artifact is something that exasperated my boyfriend, r., who has read it twice in the original french. perec once worked as an archivist at a neurophysiological research laboratory, which may account for his vast interest in the kinds of minutae described in the book (minutae which, in the original french, accounts for some pretty wacky and often anachronistic language that isn't always found in french-english dictionaries). you will find yourself encountering lists upon lists, and wondering what it all means, or worse, tempted to skim ahead to the next great story. DON'T. skim the lists, that is. as you read on, you will come to understand that the intention of the author both towards the novel and towards you, the reader, is to understand that the ephemera, the lists, the lives of things are every bit as important as the impossibly fantastic stories told side-by-side about the characters inhabiting the building. that while experiences gives these characters meaning in our eyes, these people's possessions, ephemera and clutter give meaning to theirs. you will find that they are given equal consideration and measure. you may further find yourself being surprised to agree with perec on his choosing and understanding of this matter.

there is a kind of loose narrative thread in the novel, a few characters you are made to care about more than others. i don't want to give it away, but suffice it to say that each night that i sat down to read another 10, 20, or 100 pages of this novel, ryan was enjoying reliving his reading through my retelling of some little gem that i had just gotten to, or expanded my understanding of something that had occurred 200 pages earlier, or what-have-you. another note about reading it: it's not the kind of novel that you necessarily feel compelled to read straight through in a compressed amount of time. at least i didn't. i took a few months with this novel, and the pacing and manner of storytelling in it is such that it can be picked up and left off reasonably at most places in the book.

when you finally finish it, i don't doubt that you will be left with the feeling that you have just had a once-in-a-lifetime reading experience, and that you are a better person for it.
Profile Image for Lee Klein .
794 reviews838 followers
September 13, 2016
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 eventually reduced to nothing, but not with semi-suspicious "creative writing 101" poignancy -- here it's a celebration of the word in this book's title. Not much dialogue, mostly summarized scenes, short chapters, stories within stories within stories, a cast of hundreds. The Bartlebooth section, even if published alone, probably would have won the author the Nobel Prize if he'd lived into his sixties. Highly recommended to people who like to read, especially those readers into towering literary artistry (ie, audacious, original, extraordinarily well-executed, life-affirming, good-natured, inspiring masterpieces).
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,009 reviews4,008 followers
January 29, 2010
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 Everyman’s Library hardback, voles, wisteria, yarmulke, zebra named Francine Prose.

Reader reactions to this list: astounding apathy, broken bladder, cauterised callipers, damaged dingbats, execrated excrement, futzed forceps, grazed gnocchi, hurt hamstrings, injured ionosphere, jerked jew’s harp, kinked knee, licked lemon, mangled mangle, nastied nipples, ouched ostriches, pricked pips, quacked quays, ripped rumps, singed songsheets, touched tympani, undergone uvula, vuvvered vuvvers, wankered wimps, yooplop yimplam, zingzam zoomsung, etc, repeat for whole book but with French eccentrics and whimsical bourgeois.
Profile Image for P.E..
753 reviews508 followers
March 3, 2023
Urban Legend

Soundtrack: Slightly All the Time - Soft Machine

Let us keep things simple. What is Life: A User's Manual?

This book is a collection of sketches depicting the rooms of an apartment block, according to a set of arbitrarily set constraints. In its course, the reader explores the many oddities, drolleries, mute tragedies, temporary achievements and eloquent failures of the tenants. As the book progressed, I realised the extent of the similarities with Les Choses, another story by Georges Perec, this time about a young couple planning their future matrimonial life, setting up plans, purchasing furniture, commodities... Up to a point when the items seem to have appropriated something of their lives. More accurately, that whatever life the young couple have spent in the last ten, twenty, thirty years, is condensed and, somehow, enclosed in the unfeeling, not slightly detached indifference of the items... There is something similar at work here, in Life: A User's Manual. To up the difficulty a bit, Perec chose to give an array of motley caracteristic to each of the 99 rooms explored in the course of this book. So much so that you'd feel as though you were roaming among the stalls of a second-hand bric-a-brac. Have you ever felt this impression visiting old aunts or grandparents? Well, this is it, by the power of ten! Comic, gloomy, or mind-blowing it is always provocative, a true challenge for the reader's mind, as though you were visiting another planet, all the more puzzling as it is a simulacra of planet Earth.

Layout of the building where Life A User's Manual takes place

Detailed layout

Ordering of chapters

The Doll's House at the Smithsonian, National Museum of American History


Other books sharing common features with this one:

Stories within stories, metaliterature:

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse
El libro de arena
Ulysses (certain chapters)
The World Inside
Stand on Zanzibar
The Man in the High Castle
Where's Waldo?


Les Choses: Une histoire des années soixante
American Psycho
Travels in Hyperreality
L'écume des jours


Cartes et cartographie
Ruines et vestiges
Urbex : 50 lieux secrets et abandonnés en France


'Imaginons un homme dont la fortune n'aurait d'égale que l'indifférence à ce que la fortune permet généralement, et dont le désir serait, beaucoup plus orgueilleusement, de saisir [non la totalité du monde], mais un fragment constitué de celui-ci : face à l'inextricable incohérence du monde, il s'agira alors d'accomplir jusqu'au bout un programme, restreint sans doute, mais entier, intact, irreductible.'

'Au regard d'un individu, d'une famille, ou même d'une dynastie, une ville, une rue, une maison semblent inaltérables, inaccessibles au temps, aux accidents de la vie humaine, à tel point que l'on croit pouvoir confronter et opposer la fragilité de notre condition à l'invulnérabilité de la pierre. Mais la même fièvre qui, vers 1850 [...] a fait surgir de terre ces immeubles, s'acharnera désormais à les détruire.'

'Valène, parfois, rêvait de cataclysmes et de tempêtes, de tourbillons qui emporteraient la maison tout entière comme un fétu de paille et feraient découvrir à ses habitants naufragés les merveilles infinies du système solaire ; ou bien une fissure invisible la parcourrait de haut en bas, comme un frisson, et avec un craquement prolongé et profond, elle s'ouvrirait en deux, s'engloutirait lentement dans une béance innommable ; alors des hordes l'envahiraient, des monstres aux yeux glauques, des insectes géants avec des mandibules d'acier, des termites aveugles, des gros vers blancs à la bouche insatiable : le bois s'effriterait, la pierre deviendrait du sable, les armoires s'écrouleraient sous leur propre poids, tout retomberait en poussière.

Mais non. Rien que ces disputes sordides à propos de baquets, d'allumettes et d'éviers. Et, derrière cette porte à jamais close, l'ennui morbide de cette lente vengeance, cette lourde affaire de monomanes gâteux ressassant leurs histoires feintes et leurs pièges misérables.'

'Plusieurs fois, il rêva de s'enfuir avec elle, ou loin d'elle, mais ils restèrent comme ils étaient, proches et lointains, dans la tendresse et le désespoir d'une amitié infranchissable.'

'Plus souvent[...] au terme de ces heures d'attente, après être passé par tous les degrés de l'anxiété et de l'exaspération contrôlées, Bartlebooth atteignait une sorte d'état second, une stase [...], un oubli profond du corps et du but à atteindre, un esprit vide, parfaitement vide, ouvert, disponible, une attention intacte mais flottant librement au-dessus des vicissitudes de l'existence, des contingences du puzzle'
Profile Image for Hakan.
204 reviews156 followers
February 1, 2019
bir apartmanın hikayesini anlatır perec. onun on yıllık hazırlığını, iki yıllık yazım sürecini acımasızca bir tarafa bırakalım, biz de bir apartmana bakar, kimler geldi geçti diye düşünürüz bazen, kimbilir neler yaşandı, neler gördü geçirdi bu apartman. başkaları içindir bu ama. başkalarının hayatı böyledir, biz kendimizin merkez olduğunu, dünyanın etrafımızda döndüğünü düşünürüz. çünkü diğer türlü hayatımız, hayatımızdaki her şey küçülecek, değersizleşecektir sanki. bir apartmanın küçük sınırları, kısa tarihi bile insan hayatını küçültecektir. hayal meyal hatıralar kalacaktır insandan, küçük hikayeler, belki ufak tefek eşyalar, silik izler...ve apartman, nice hayatları yutan apartman da yıkılıp gidecektir kısa zaman içinde. sonra yeni bir apartman kurulacaktır eskisinin yıkıntıları üzerinde. böyle sayısız apartman, sayısız yıkım, sayısız başlangıç.

perec bizi apartmanın içinde gezintiye çıkarmadan önce romanın bir hesabı, tıpkı apartman gibi bir mimarisi olduğunu bildirir. eski yeni sakinleriyle daireler, merdivenler, mahzenler arasında kısa parçalarla geçerken savrulmamızı istemez. "bütün gözlerimizle" bakmamız gerekmektedir. ipucu olarak yapbozlardan bahseder. yapbozun tek kişilik bir oyun olmadığı, oyuncunun her hareketinin ve karşısına çıkacak her ihtimalin daha önce düşünüldüğü, hesaplandığı, kararlaştırıldığı ortadadır. daha önemlisi, yapboz parça-bütün ilişkisini nasıl kuracağımız konusunda bize ışık tutacaktır. yapboz oyununda bütün parçayı belirlemektedir. parçaların tek başına anlamı yoktur, parçayı, hatta parçaların birbiriyle ilişkisini bilmek bile bütünün bilindiği anlamına gelmemektedir.

bu sebeple gezintiyi dikkatle takip etmeye çalışırız. notlar alır, apartman planına tekrar tekrar bakarız belki. kurduğumuz küçük bağlantılar bu hesabı çözeceğimizi düşündürür bize ama hesap bizi aşar sonuçta. apartmanda kaybolmuşuzdur. romanla sürükleniriz artık. parçalar gittikçe küçülmektedir bu arada. aşırı detaylı betimlemeler, listeler, kataloglar, eşyalar, eşyalar ve eşyalarla sabrımız sınanmaktadır. bu romanda sayfaların, bölümlerin atlanarak okunabileceğini görürüz, bazen okumayı tamamen bırakmak aklımızdan geçer. ama bunu yapmayız, yapmamıza engel olan şey, parçaların küçüldükçe anlamını-değerini yitirdiğini, hiçbir şey ifade etmediğini fark etmemizdir. bunu fark etmek bütün fikrini yeniden uyandırır aklımızda. bütünü merak ederiz.

parçalar arasında birbirinden ilginç hikayeler vardır ayrıca. bu hikayelerin çoğu tuhaflıkları, hatta saçmalıklarıyla romanın soğuk, katı gerçekliğini yumuşatmaya, romana karşı ilgimizi korumaya yöneliktir. bazı hikayeler ise romanın yapısıyla, anlamıyla bağlantılıdır. hayatını, tüm varlığını, çabasını geride hiçbir iz bırakmayacak bir uğraşa-sonradan silinip yok olacak yapbozlara-adayan kahramanın hikayesi bu anlamda bir merkez oluşturur. dünyalar dolaşılıp sayısız maceralar yaşansa da nihayetinde bir apartman odasının duvarları arasında, o odayı, apartmanı oluşturacak bir parça olarak biter hikaye. sonra apartman yeni sakinleri, yeni hikayeleriyle başka bir parça, sonra apartmandan sonrası, ötesi yine küçücük, yine tek başına anlamsız bir başka parça...zamanımız kısa, gücümüz azdır, hayatımız kırılgandır. yaşam kullanma kılavuzu, küçük, basit parçalarla anlatır bize. defalarca bırakmak isteriz romanı, tıpkı hayat gibi, sonuna geldiğimizde ise tekrar okumak, yine yaşamak.
Profile Image for Sofia.
279 reviews90 followers
September 18, 2019
Τί οδηγίες χρήσης για την ζωή μπορείς να βρεις σε ένα βιβλίο με τίτλο «Ζωή: Οδηγίες χρήσης»; Όταν συγγραφέας του είναι ο Περέκ, η απάντηση δεν είναι τόσο απλή. Το μυθιστόρημα περιστρέφεται γύρω από την ζωή των ενοίκων μιας πολυκατοικίας και χωρίζεται σε έξι ενότητες. Αν καταφέρεις να προσπεράσεις την πρώτη, όλα θα κυλήσουν πολύ καλά. Στην πρώτη ενότητα μας συστήνει τους ενοίκους περιγράφοντάς μας με την λεπτομέρεια ενός ζωγράφου μία σκηνή από την ζωή τους. Η σκηνή μπορεί να είναι μια μόνο στιγμή αφήνοντας τα αντικείμενα, τον χώρο του ενοίκου να μιλήσουν από μόνα τους. Είναι μοναδικό αυτό που κάνει, αλλά απαιτεί έναν εξίσου αφοσιωμένο αναγνώστη. Οι επόμενες ενότητες ξεδιπλώνουν σιγά σιγά και άλλες πτυχές των ανθρώπων αυτής της πολυκατοικίας και κυλάνε με μεγαλύτερη ευκολία.
Η αλήθεια είναι ότι δεν ξέρω πώς να προσεγγίσω αυτό το βιβλίο. Μοιάζει με μια γυάλινη μπάλα που ξέρεις ότι μέσα της μπορείς να δεις τα μυστικά του κόσμου, αλλά όλο σου γλιστράει από τα χέρια. Θα αρχίσω λοιπόν από τα βασικά, τονίζοντας πόσο αξιοθαύμαστο είναι το γεγονός ότι σε αυτό το βιβλίο μπορείς να βρεις ο, τι ιστορία βάζει το μυαλό σου. Έρωτες, μυστήριο, ταξίδια, κωμικοί χαρακτήρες, τραγικοί χαρακτήρες, τα πάντα! Ακόμα και σε στιγμές που ένιωθα ότι έχω κουραστεί (υπήρξαν κι αυτές, δεν χρειάζεται να εξιδανικεύουμε τα πάντα) και ξεκίναγε μια ιστορία που έλεγα μέσα μου αποκλείεται να μου αρέσει, κατάφερνε πάντα να με κερδίζει. Αυτό το γεγονός από μόνο του καθιστά το βιβλίο μοναδικό και ταλέντο του Περέκ αδιανόητα μεγάλο.
Κάθε ένοικος είναι κι ένα παράθυρο σε μια εκδοχή της ζωής. Ίσως, σκέφτομαι, αυτό προσπάθησε να κάνει ο συγγραφέας. Να καλύψει κάθε πιθανή ιστορία με έναν ήρωα, όχι φυσικά σαν οδηγία για το πώς να ζήσεις την δικιά σου. Πιο πολύ σαν αρχείο, σαν καταγραφή της ίδιας της ζωής. Τι μένει όμως μετά από όλες αυτές τις ιστορίες; Τίποτα. Το λέει μάλιστα και ο ίδιος σε ανύποπτο χρόνο χρησιμοποιώντας μεταφορικά την πολυκατοικία. Η πολυκατοικία άλλωστε έχει καταφέρει να γίνει μια μικρογραφία της ίδιας της ζωής, ένα παζλ που κάθε του κομμάτι είναι και μία ιστορία.
Ίσως ο μοναδικός ένοικος που αντιλαμβάνεται το προσωρινό του πράγματος να είναι ο Μπαρτλεμπουθ ο οποίος αφιερώνει την ζωή του να ζωγραφίζει ακουαρέλες από όλο τον κόσμο, τις οποίες μετά στέλνει στον γείτονα του για να τις κάνει παζλ, τα οποία στην συνέχεια τα συμπληρώνει και η ακουαρέλα έτσι απλά παύει να υπάρχει. Θα μπορούσε αυτό να είναι ένας συμβολισμός, μια οδηγία για την ίδια την ζωή;
Αυτό είναι ένα παζλ που θα πρέπει ο κάθε αναγνώστης να το λύσει μόνος του.
Profile Image for Argos.
983 reviews283 followers
May 30, 2020
Perec’in bu başyapıtı çok sevilerek okunabilir, muazzam keyif alınabilir, hayran olunabilir. Ya da hiç hoşlanılmaz, yarım bırakılır hatta absurd bulunabilir. Deneysel, modern bir roman denilirse de üyesi olduğu Oulipo grubunun etkisinde yazdığını düşünürsek deneyselden çok “nev-i şahsına münhasır” bir Oulipo yapıtı olarak değerlendirmek daha doğru olur.

Nedir Oulipo akımı? Oulipo yani “Potansiyel Edebiyat İşliği” (ouvroir:işlik, litterature:edebiyat, potentielle:potansiyel) kelimelerinden oluşmuştur. Buna “Gizil Edebiyat Atölyesi” de denebilir. Bu topluluk 1960 yılında edebiyat meraklısı bir matematikçi olan Le Lionnais ve matematik meraklısı olan bir edebiyatçı Queneau tarafından kurulmuştur. İçinde Perec ve Calvino gibi isimlerin de yer aldığı Oulipo’cular harf ve rakamların karşılıklı etkileşimlerini saptamak, yazı ile metamatiğin işbirliğini sağlamak için uğraşıyorlardı. Bu nedenle polindromlar yani ters-düz okunuşları aynı olan kelimeler (traş-şart), lipogramlar yani bir harfin hiç kullanılmadığı metinler (Perec’in hiç ‘e’ harfi kullanmadan yazdığı “Kayboluş” romanı), akroştişler yani cümle başındaki harflerle bir kelime veya cümle oluşturma, anagramlar yani bir kelimenin harflerini değiştirerek yeni bir kelime oluşturmak (ihbar-bahri) ve daha birçok farklı teknikler kullanılmaktadır. Örneğin hiç noktalama işareti kullanılmadan yazmak, bir harfi bir başka harfle değiştirerek (s yerine t kullanmak) metni tamamlamak, sözcük sayısını sınırlandırmak, tamamiyle boşluksuz yazmak gibi. Bu romanında matematikten de yararlanıyor Perec;
99 bölüm+sondeyiş bölümü ile 100 bölümlük bir roman, yani 10x10’luk, yüz adet küçük kare oluşturan bir esas kare. Böylesi bir kitap nasıl yazılabilir sorusuna cevabı Oulipo tarzı düşünmek diye cevaplayabiliriz, ya nasıl okunabilmesi gereklidir diye düşünmek daha zor bir sorudur.

Perec romanının bir yapboz yani puzzle romanı olduğunu belirterek kitabın başında yapboz’u yani puzzle’ı şöyle tanımlıyor. “Puzzle önce ayrıştırılıp sonra incelenecek bir parçalar toplamı değildir, bir bütündür… Bir puzzle hiçbir zaman onu oluşturan şeylerin tek tek irdelenmesiyle anlaşılamaz ve bütün hakkında bir fikir veremez.”

Şimdi romana biraz değinelim. Ana roman içinde birçok öykü ve novella barındırıyor. Bunlar bir kuyumcu titizliğiyle birbirine bağlanıyor. Paris’te, Simon-Crubellier Sokağı, No. 11 adresindeki on katlı bir apartmanın içinde 1883-1975 yılları arasında 92 yıl yaşayan bina sakinleri ve onların hayatlarına katılan kişiler, eşyalar, anlatılar, anılar ve apartmanın bölümleri üzerine yazılmış öyküler kurgulanarak dünyadaki yaşam, insanların hayatı anlatılıyor. Apartman dünyanın bir küçük maketi gibi.

Romanın üç ana kişisi Percival Bartlebooth, Gaspard Winckler ve Serge Valene’dir. Kitabı okursanız yardımcı olması açısından bir iki noktaya değinmekte yarar var. Bartlebooth adı iki kurmaca kişiden alınmıştır, ilki Bartleby (H. Mellville’nin Katip Bartleby’i), ikincisi ise Barnabooth (V. Larbaud’un yarattığı kendisini tanımladığı bir kitap kahramanı). G. Winckler ise yazarın ilk romanı olup bir türlü bastıramadığı ve arada kaybolan ancak ölümünden sonra bulunup basılan “Paralı Asker” romanının ana kahramanı olan sahte resim yapımcısıdır.

Romanda zengin bir İngiliz olan Bartlebooth, yaşamını tek bir şeye, bir yapboz (puzzle) projesine adamıştır. Bu nedenle yirmi yıl boyunca Valene’den suluboya resim dersi alır, sonraki yirmi yıl süresince dünyayı gezerek limandan limana uğrayarak 15 günde bir suluboya resim yapar. Bunları Fransa'daki yapboz ustası Winckler’e gönderir. Fransa'ya dönünce Winckler’in yaptığı 750 parçalık yapbozları her 15 günde bir tane olmak üzere çözmeyi planlar. Sonra özel bir kağıda yapılan bu yapbozlar tekrar ilk yapıldıkları yerlere götürülüp özel bir kimyasal maddeye batırılarak tamamen silinecek ve yok edileceklerdir. Perec burada büyük bir projenin bir döngü olarak yapbozları yerleştirerek başladığı yere gelmesi ve yokolmasını kurgularken sanırım hiçliği, “hiç”i vurgulamak istemiştir. İnsan hayatında çokca yer tutan “hiç”i.

Kitabın kurgusu olağanüstü güzel, sizi içine çeken, merakınızı sürekli ayakta tutan bir anlatıma sahip. Sakin dümdüz akan bir nehirde değil, önünde setler, küçük büyük çağlayanlar, köprüler, kıvrımlar, kayalar, suya düşmüş kütükler bulunan bir nehirde suyun içinde akışa bırakıp gidiyorsunuz kendinizi. Su devamlı akıyor. Bu kurgu sizi bir bulmacanın içinde olduğunuzu hissettiriyor, ama bulmacayı çözmeye çalışmıyorsunuz aksine bu bulmacayı, burada yapbozu yerleştirmeye çalışan yazara teslim oluyorsunuz. Kurguda bir ilginç nokta da Perec bu kitabında diyaloglara hiç yer vermemiş, karakterler arasında hiç bir konuşma geçmiyor. Sadece 31. bölümde yer alan bir öyküde mektup yoluyla bir diyalog var ama yüzyüze değil. İki kişinin polisiye bir öykü nedeniyle birbirlerine yazdıkları mektuplarda hitap var ancak canlı konuşma yok.

Perec inanılmaz birikimi ile tarih, tıp, sinema, edebiyat, bisiklet, spor nerdeyse her alanda raks ederek kah apartmanın dairelerinde, kah merdivenlerde ve mahzenlerde dolaşıp, öykülerini anlatıyor. Detaylar insanı büyülüyor, duvarlarda asılı resimler, haritalar, yemek menüleri ve tarifleri, afişler, eski kitaplar, kartpostallar, faturalar, makbuzlar, ilanlar, büsküvi ve kahve kutuları, avizeler, oyuncaklar, antika eşyalar, mobilyalar, mutfak malzemeleri, denizcilikle ilgili eşyalar ve burada saymakla bitiremeyeceğim ilginç ve şaşırtan binlerce eşyayı hiç sıkılmadan okuyorsunuz. Bir oda ya da mahzen en ince ayrıntısına kadar anlatılmış. Yer karosundan duvardaki lekeye, kapı kulpundan odadaki kedinin göz rengine kadar. Buna bir de 179 farklı kişinin romanda yer aldığını da eklersek kitabın zenginliğini tahmin edebilirsiniz.

Tabii baştada belirttiğim gibi çok sevseniz de sevmeseniz de okuması zor bir kitap, çünkü öncelikle hacimli bir kitap, indeksleri, zaman dizimi, hikaye hatırlatmalarıyla 600 küsür sayfayı buluyor üstelik küçük puntoyla basılmış ve en önemlisi her bölümden sonra bir boşluk kalıyor, boşlukları doldurmaya kalkarsanız Perec’in başta dediği gibi bütün hakkında fikir sahibi olmanız zor, kitabın bitmesini beklemeniz gerek. Böyle bir kitap yazabilmek için insanın kendisine inanması güvenmesi gerek. 46 yaşında oldukça erken bir yaşta ölen G. Perec belki de Gaspard Winckler’li başka kaç eser verecekti ? Mutlaka okunmalı derim, beğenilmemesini riskini göz önüne alarak.
Profile Image for Nickolas the Kid.
301 reviews70 followers
January 23, 2021
Γίνεται πολλές μικρές απλές ιδέες να συνθέσουν κάτι το εξαιρετικά πολύπλοκο; Βεβαίως και γίνεται, δια χειρός Ζορζ Περέκ.
Το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο είναι ένα παζλ ή ίσως ένα ψηφιδωτό που ο συγγραφέας έφτιαξε με απόλυτη προσήλωση έτσι ώστε να διασκεδάσει ο ίδιος - βασική αρχή των δημιουργών Oulipo - αλλά και να "ταλαιπωρήσει" στο διηνεκές όλους τους επίδοξους αναγνώστες που θα θελήσουν να αναμετρηθούν με το δημιούργημά του. Ο Περέκ κατάφερε να χωρέσει σχεδόν τα πάντα μέσα στο βιβλίο του. Μύθους, θρύλους, ιστορικά στοιχεία, καλλιτεχνικές αναφορές χωρίς να ξεχνάει να κλείσει το μάτι σε συγγραφείς που τον επηρέασαν.
Η πολυκατοικία της οδού Σιμόν-Κρυμπελλιέ 11 παρουσιάζεται στα μάτια μας με έναν τρόπο μοναδικό. Μαθαίνουμε την ιστορία κάθε ένοικου και ενώ παράλληλα ο συγγραφέας περιγράφει με εκνευριστική λεπτομέρεια κάθε αντικείμενο (κάδρα, κούπες, νομίσματα, βιβλία κλπ) της πολυκατοικίας. Όσο η ιστορία προχωράει τόσο περισσότερες λεπτομέρειες για το κάθε τι διαβάζουμε. Ο Περέκ με αυτόν τον τρόπο μας μεταφέρει εντός της πολυκατοικίας χωρίς όμως να μας αφήσει να λύσουμε τον γρίφο!
Φυσικά, υπάρχει μια υποτυπώδης βασική ιστορία, όπου ο εκκεντρικός Μπάρτλεμπουθ έχει βάλει σαν στόχο της ζωής του να ζωγραφίσει και ανασυνθέσει με παζλ όλα μέρη που είχε επισκεφτεί ανά τον κόσμο και εν τέλει να τα καταστρέψει (!), την οποία την ακολουθούν δεκάδες άλλες εγκιβωτισμένες ιστορίες. Οι χαρακτήρες δεν είναι αμιγώς λογοτεχνικοί, στερούνται βάθους κάτι που ίσως σκόπιμα επεδίωξε ο Γάλλος συγγραφέας ως μια αλληγορία προς το παράδοξο της ίδιας μας της ζωής.
Προσωπικά έφτασα ως το τέλος του γρίφου και μπορώ να πω ότι ήταν αρκετά ενδιαφέρουσα αναγνωστική εμπειρία. Παρ' όλα αυτά υπήρξαν στιγμές που διάβαζα μηχανικά τις ατελείωτες περιγραφές αντικειμένων ενώ δεν έλειπαν στιγμές που κοιτούσα περίεργα τα αντικείμενα μέσα στο σπίτι μου! Καταλαβαίνω ότι Περέκ ήταν πολυμαθής και με ένα εντελώς μεταμοντέρνο στυλ προσπάθησε να φτιάξει ένα μοναδικό βιβλίο, το οποίο μεν θαύμασα αλλά δεν μπορώ να πω ότι λογοτεχνικά - με την κλασική έννοια του όρου - με συγκλόνισε. Συν τοις άλλοις τα βιβλία με πολλές εγκιβωτισμένες ιστορίες όπως Το χειρόγρα��ο της Σαραγόσα και ο Μέλμοθ με αφήνουν κάπως αδιάφορο στο τέλος και κυρίως αποστασιοποιημένο.
Εν τέλει το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο θα το πρότεινα σε όλους τους βιβλιόφιλους χωρίς δισταγμό. Είναι ένα βιβλίο που ακόμα κι αν δεν το αγαπήσεις σε κάνει να στέκεσαι απέναντι στο συγγραφέα με σεβασμό και θαυμασμό και ίσως να αναρωτηθείς αν η ζωή μας είναι ένα τεράστιο παζλ σαν αυτό της πολυκατοικίας της οδού Σιμόν-Κρυμπελλιέ 11...
Profile Image for Sinem A..
448 reviews249 followers
December 31, 2020
Yılı böyle binlerce parçalı bir puzzle ile bitirmek bu sene tabi olduğum sabır testinin en zevkli kısmı oldu.
Kitap 99 farklı bölümü bir araya getirerek benzer görünüşleri yan yana koyarak ya da önce kenarlardan başlayarak yapılan bir puzzle gibiydi. Yaşama dair ne varsa özellikle sanatla ve objelerle, resimlerle, kağıtlarla, dekorla, mimariyle tarihle kurguyla ilgili ne varsa var içinde.
Yani hayat gibi acayip bi illüzyondu kitap, çözdüm mü okudum mu belli değil...
Profile Image for Mala.
156 reviews210 followers
March 13, 2016

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.

An Oulipian Marvel– Perec has created here an intriguing puzzle– written under constraints, it's a fitting tribute to Raymond Queneau, the grand master of the Oulipian school of writing.
From the wiki :
"Perec also wrote Life A User's Manual using the Knight's Tour method of construction. The book is set in a fictional Parisian block of flats, where Perec devises the elevation of the building as a 10×10 grid: 10 storeys, including basements and attics and 10 rooms across, including 2 for the stairwell. Each room is assigned to a chapter, and the order of the chapters is given by the knight's moves on the grid."
Here's a visual of the 42 constraints' grid

The Architext* – While a knight's tour is a solitary game, the art of jigsaw puzzling is not! The latter calls for an active author-reader relationship–the epigraph taken from Jules Verne, says: "Look with all your eyes, look", 'cause "every move the puzzler makes, the puzzle-maker 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."

"What makes LAUM an exemplary architext is "its almost complete interpenetration of theme and structure, so that to describe one is to describe the other", the novel is "set" in an apartment building on Rue Simon-Crubellier (but as we read on, we realise) that the book is the apartment building itself. According to Perec, the novel was partly inspired by a Saul Steinberg drawing of a New York rooming house with its facade removed (...), Perec writes, the "mere inventory– and it could never be exhaustive–of the items of furniture and the actions represented has something truly vertiginous about it" (...) (The map provided in the book) obscures as much as it reveals,for its erasure of the wall divisions within each apartment belies the fact that the building has a total of hundred rooms. Its elongated, rectangular form also disguises another crucial aspect of the book's architecture: when made square and superimposed upon the rectilinear grid of an architectural floor plan, Perec's original plan begins to resemble an enlarged ten-by-ten chessboard.(...)While the knight's tour is mapped out for the reader(...) each room visited can be placed, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, back within the frame of the building's architectural floor plan."

The Lives of Others :
Perec satisfies the voyeur in us: we are always interested in the lives of others. LAUM is constructed as a huge diorama, giving us a panoramic view of the lives of all the residents of 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier:

"Sometimes Valène had the feeling that time had been stopped, suspended, frozen around he didn’t know what expectation. The very idea of the picture he planned to do and whose laid-out, broken-up images had begun to haunt every second of his life, furnishing his dreams, squeezing his memories, the very idea of this shattered building laying bare the cracks of its past, the crumbling of its present, this unordered amassing of stories grandiose and trivial, frivolous and pathetic, gave him the impression of a grotesque mausoleum raised in the memory of companions petrified in terminal postures as insignificant in their solemnity as they were in their ordinariness, as if he had wanted both to warn of and to delay these slow or quick deaths which seemed to be engulfing the entire building storey by storey."

The plot covers one day, nay, a single moment, in the lives of these people, frozen in time –something momentous has occured here but we don't know that yet. The flâneur-like narrator takes us on a tour of this building, room by room, place by place, using a knight's move on the chessboard. Perec brilliantly employs flashback & flash-forwarding techniques to cover in a single day, hundred years of history! – in the manner of Arabian Nights & Ovid's Metamorphoses, stories lead to stories & even more stories, thus effectively overcoming constraints of time & place. Lives intersect, sometimes casually, sometimes to damaging/lasting effect. The tenants come from different national/ethnic & socio-economic groups– the house thus becomes a microcosm of the world-at-large.

Objects, objects everywhere, not a clue to be seen!

These objectives are achieved through a perusal of objects & the characters' personal histories. The objects provide the setting & help us understand the kinds of people who live/lived there. In a way, imbued with history & emotions, they seem to have assumed a life of their own, & like the entertainment cartridge in Infinite Jest, the puzzle/mystery in Life A User's Manual, becomes a mad chase towards various objects with which this book's universe is cluttered– but just as IJ is infinitely more than the search for that elusive object, LAUM too is ultimately a human drama played out on a vast scale. Sometimes, the objects are like bread crumbs leaving a trail ( which might as well turn out to be a false one!)– in order to arrive at the heart of the story, ultimately, you'll have to look beyond them.

A Faustian Bargain – Perec could've called Bartlebooth, Ahab, but that would've been too obvious- he settled for Bartle(by)booth. Most of the characters here are having projects of one kind or another & eventually they all end in failures.
The defeats are crushing, the victories small & ephemeral–so much so, that one is tempted to call it Life A Loser's Manual !

"There is a lot of loss in this book - lost love, lost fortunes, lost jobs, lost lives, lost hope - and what is probably the biggest loss in the book, the loss of time and evidence of existence represented by Bartlebooth's project (...) France, along with most of Europe, was torn asunder by that (world) war, split between the resistors, the collaborators, and the the not-sure-what-to-dos. In 1975, these survivors and the effects of those years were still fresh enough to account for the atmosphere found at 11 Rue Simon-Crubellier. (...)And so there is a certain pall that hung over the France of those years, and though Perec might not emphasize it too directly, there's no way his work or his characters can escape the reality of those times.
There is a gravity in Perec that comes from a deep and heavy place. I don't want to project too much, but the general scarcity of joyous and humorous moments and silver linings and so on must have history as its source.

In my edition, there is a short disclaimer from Perec right after the Contents that reads:

"Friendship, history, and literature have supplied me with some of the characters of this book. All other resemblances to living persons or to people having lived in reality or fiction can only be coincidental."

Normally, I would dismiss this as a legal requirement of the business world, but in this case, I read it as Perec acknowledging that this fiction is based on lives lived and events lived through - the good, bad, and mundane days of each of these individuals making up the mini-cosmos of the apartment building. Each of these individual stories could have taken place in any time and place - adjusted for cultural details, of course - making this more and more of a "User's Manual" for human life as each chapter rolls by.*"

Like Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, Perec has also immortalised in words, the teeming common life– their mundane, everyday concerns, their joys & sorrows, "absence of completeness, absence of perfection". And like Proust, Perec too has immersed himself in retrieving memories:
"He tried to resuscitate those imperceptible details which over the course of fifty-five years had woven the life of this house and which the years had unpicked one by one: the impeccably polished linoleum floors on which you were only allowed to walk in felt undershoes, the oiled canvas tablecloths with red and green stripes on which mother and daughter shelled peas; the dishstands that clipped together, the white porcelain counterpoise light that you could flick back up with one finger at the end of dinner; evenings by the wireless set, with the man in a flannel jacket, the woman in a flowery apron, and the slumbering cat rolled up in a ball by the fireplace; children in clogs going down for the milk with dented cans; the big old wood-stoves of which you would collect up the ashes in spread-out sheets of old newspaper …Where were they now, the Van Houten cocoa tins, the Banania cartons with the laughing infantryman, the turned-wood boxes of Madeleine biscuits from Commercy? "

5 shining stars for the genius, the madness, and the chutzpah! Ultimately, it's about life in all its variegated forms. A sadness permeates this celebration of life, still it's a celebration, let there be no doubt about that. A series of parables that teach us to laugh through our tears, for such is life!


*1) "He composed acrostics, anagrams, autobiography, criticism, crosswords, descriptions of dreams, film scripts, heterograms, lipograms, memories, palindromes, plays, poetry, radio plays, recipes, riddles, stories short and long, travel notes, univocalics, and, of course, novels."( From the author intro)

*2) Constructing the Architext: Georges Perec's Life,A User's Manual by Peta Mitchell.

*3) This review is dedicated to Jim – at Brain Pain, for the invaluable insights he brought to this read.
Profile Image for Fernando.
676 reviews1,068 followers
September 1, 2022
“No son los elementos los que determinan el conjunto, sino el conjunto el que determina los elementos. Aisladamente, una pieza de un puzzle no quiere decir nada; es tan sólo pregunta imposible, reto opaco; pero no bien logramos conectarla con una de sus vecinas, desaparece, deja de existir como pieza: la intensa dificultad que precedió aquel acercamiento, no sólo no tiene ya razón de ser, sino que parece no haberla tenido nunca, hasta tal punto se ha hecho evidencia: las dos piezas milagrosamente reunidas ya sólo son una, a su vez fuente de error, de duda, de desazón y de espera”

“La vida instrucciones de uso” es uno de los libros más ambiciosos y excepcionales del siglo XX.
Escrito por este enorme autor francés que se llamó Georges Perec entre 1969 y 1978, año en que fue publicado, se sitúa en el mismo pedestal que otras novelas únicas en el mundo de la literatura, novela enciclopédica por la gran cantidad de datos e información que posee, y construida a imagen y semejanza de un puzle o rompecabezas ya que su estructura se aparta de toda esquematización estructural, como “Rayuela” de Julio Cortázar, mientras que por otro lado es absolutamente vanguardista y transgresora como el “Ulises” de James Joyce, con la que posee varios puntos en común.
La idea de Perec de narrar sobre los personajes que viven o vivieron en las habitaciones de una enorme casa es decorada por toda clase de situaciones, descripciones y saltos temporales como el autor quiere introducir.
A su vez, el narrador omnisciente nos cuenta todo lo que ocurre en un solo día, el 23 de junio de 1975, antes de cumplirse las ocho de la tarde (también en relación con “Ulises”, que transcurre el 16 de junio de 1904).
Para complejizar aún más la lectura de la novela, que no respeta las normalidades usualmente impuestas para la construcción narrativa, Perec explica lo siguiente:
“Me imagino un inmueble parisiense cuya fachada ha desaparecido, de modo que, desde el entresuelo a las buhardillas, todas las habitaciones que se encuentran delante sean visibles instantánea y simultáneamente. La novela —cuyo título es La vida instrucciones de uso— se limita a describir las habitaciones puestas al descubierto y las actividades que en ellas se desarrollan, todo ello según procesos formales poligrafía del caballo (y lo que es más, adaptada (la novela cuenta con 99 capítulos) a un tablero 100 casillas (10×10), pseudo-quenina de orden 10, bi-cuadrado latino ortogonal de orden 10 (aquel que dijo Euler que no existía, pero que fue descubierto en 1960 por Bose, Parker y Shrikande.”
Más genial, imposible. Lo que Perec logra es salir de toda convencionalidad, desestructurando todo lo impuesto por los cánones literarios (renuevo la conexión con Joyce y Cortázar) para liberar al lector, entre otras cosas, de atarse a un argumento.
La finalidad del autor es la ilustración, utilizando técnicas de enumeración y repetición de hechos históricos, datos edilicios, descripción de cuadros, ambientaciones e interiores.
Lo que el lector recibe es un cúmulo interminable de información que no está puesta al azar, sino que intenta con esto generar una situación de cooperación de lectura entre ambas partes, autor y lector con el texto como nexo excluyente.
Tal vez, para los lectores que estén habituados a otro tipo de lecturas, este no sea un libro de su agrado. Probablemente les resulte un tanto tedioso y por momentos interminable.
De lo que sí podemos estar de acuerdo es de la impresionante cantidad de información que Perec posee, la cual llega a transformarse en un pozo casi inagotable.
La novela también puede leerse, a través de sus innumerables personajes, como el reflejo o testimonio de la sociedad francesa del siglo XX o como un retrato costumbrista de la burguesía de ese país.
A la lectura de “La vida instrucciones de uso” se la aborda con denodado entusiasmo o entendible escepticismo, pero nunca con indiferencia. Cada habitación, cada frase y cada página irán forjando el veredicto del lector.
Sólo hay que intentarlo.
Profile Image for FotisK.
351 reviews156 followers
January 22, 2020
1η δημοσίευση, Book Press:

Ζωρζ Περέκ: Οδηγός ανάγνωσης ενός παζλ

Υπάρχει μια κρυφή ζωή στα άψυχα αντικείμενα, στα πράγματα που μας περισ��οιχίζουν και μας συνοδεύουν από την κούνια στον τάφο. Το ανακάλυψε συντετριμμένος ο Αινείας όταν είδε τα ανδραγαθήματά του και τους αγαπημένους συντρόφους του, νεκρούς πλέον, ως παραστάσεις τοιχογραφίας, ψελλίζοντας: «Sunt lacrimae rerum…» («Υπάρχουν δάκρυα για τα πράγματα…»). Και τα δάκρυα των πραγμάτων είναι εξίσου σημαντικά με εκείνα των ανθρώπων, γιατί τελικά έχουν επενδυθεί με το σύνολο των προσδοκιών και των διαψεύσεών μας.

Κάθε φορά που στρέφουμε το βλέμμα σε ένα αντικείμενο που δεν είναι απλώς λειτουργικό, αλλά φέρει εντός του κάποιο κομμάτι της προσωπικής μας ιστορίας, έστω μια ανάμνηση, το αντικείμενο αυτό αποκτά τη δική του υπόσταση, τη δική του ζωή, που είναι η δική μας. Θα μπορούσε, θεωρητικά πάντα, να πει κάποιος πως το σύνολο μια ζωής ενυπάρχει και στο σύνολο των πραγμάτων που τη συνοδεύουν, ενσωματώνεται σε αυτά, ώσπου η παρουσία τους να είναι αξεδιάλυτη από εκείνη της φυσικής ύπαρξης. Αν αυτός ο κάποιος είναι λογοτέχνης παιγνιώδης, με έφεση στο ιλαρό και στο τραγικό, σε ό,τι δηλαδή υφαίνει τον ιστό της τέχνης (και της ζωής που τη μιμείται), τότε αυτή η σχέση προσώπων και πραγμάτων θα μπορούσε να αποτελέσει έναυσμα και αίτιο αφήγησης ουσιωδώς πειραματικής.

Ο Περέκ υπήρξε ένας τέτοιου είδους συγγραφέας. Ένας λάτρης του παιχνιδιού των λέξεων, ένας γητευτής του λόγου, ένας πολυπράγμων και ταυτόχρονα πραγματιστής (με τα πράγματα καταγίνεται, δεν το κρύβει). Γι’ αυτόν, τα πράγματα έχουν υπόσταση, δακρύζουν και γελούν, μα το σημαντικότερο, εγκυμονούν και γεννοβολούν ιστορίες, ων ουκ έστιν αριθμός. Αυτό δηλαδή που είναι η ουσία της συγγραφής: η διήγηση ιστοριών, όχι τόσο για το θέμα τους (συχνότερα αδιάφορες, παρά σημαντικές), αλλά για την υπέρτατη «έγκαυλο περιπάθεια» που προσφέρει η ίδια η αφήγηση (το φάντασμα του Μπόρχες είναι και στο έργο αυτό παρών, όπως εξάλλου και στον Καλβίνο).

Ο αναγνώστης που θα προσέλθει στο κείμενο αυτό αναζητώντας το ουσιώδες, το εξαιρετικό, το ξεχωριστό, το ζωτικό κ.ο.κ. θα διαψευστεί οικτρά και θα προσπεράσει. Δεν είναι πως οι σελίδες δεν περιέχουν τίποτε σημαντικό, τουναντίον, αλλά όπως όλα σε τούτη τη ζωή, είναι σπανίως εύλογα, προφανή, ευκόλως εννοούμενα. Ακόμα καλύτερα, υφέρπουν κρυφίως, ακροπατώντας μόλις επάνω από την επιφάνεια των προτάσεων, κορυφές παγόβουνου, πανέτοιμες όμως να βυθίσουν τον Τιτανικό του αργόσχολου αναγνώστη. Ο παιγνιώδης συγγραφέας έχει κρύψει με μεγάλη τέχνη το μείζον στο έλασσον, αφήνοντας πίσω του έναν χάρτη θησαυρού, ατελή μεν ως ρεαλιστική πράξη, εντελή δε ως καλλιτεχνική δημιουργία.

Δεν είναι διόλου τυχαία η εμμονή του με τα παζλ. Ήδη από την αρχή ο συγγραφέας περιγράφει τα κομμάτια του παζλ, τον τρόπο που ενώνονται, το πώς κανένα από αυτά δεν είναι από μόνο του σημαντικό και ταυτόχρονα το καθένα είναι. Το πώς το επιμέρους δεν μπορεί να δώσει την τελική εικόνα παρά μόνο ως αναπόσπαστο τμήμα του όλου, αλλά και το αυταπόδεικτο γεγονός ότι το παιχνίδι αυτό έχει όρους και όρια. Και τα όρια αυτά τα καθορίζει ο Δημιουργός του που εκ των προτέρων έχει χορογραφήσει τις κινήσεις, έχει προκαθορίσει το αποτέλεσμα – ως παιγνιώδης μικρός θεός δε, ειρωνεύεται άσπλαχνα τον αναγνώστη/παίκτη του: «Εγώ ξέρω πού και πώς τοποθετούνται τα κομμάτια, μην βαυκαλίζεσαι πως θα ανακαλύψεις εδώ κάτι που δεν έχω εκ των προτέρων προετοιμάσει!».

Και όμως, θα προσθέσω εγώ, καίτοι το παιχνίδι είναι στημένο, ευφυώς και υποχθόνια, ο αναγνώστης μπορεί και οφείλει να κινηθεί ανενδοίαστα. Προσοχή όμως! Όχι για να συγκολλήσει τα κομμάτια, αποδεχόμενος την πρόκληση του Περέκ, αλλά για απολαύσει το καθένα από αυτά ως έχει, στρεφόμενος ενάντια στη δικτατορική, πανταχού παρούσα και ντετερμινιστική παρουσία του συγγραφέα. Ο αναγνώστης οφείλει να επαναστατήσει ενάντια στην εξουσία της ολοκληρωμένης εικόνας, στρέφοντας την προσοχή του στο επιμέρους, στο ευτελές ίσως, διότι εκεί κρύβεται η μαγεία της τέχνης γενικά και ειδικά, και έτσι μόνο έχει πιθανότητα να απολαύσει το βιβλίο αυτό. Το κάλλος ενοικεί στο επιμέρους και ποτέ στο όλον!

Αν λύσεις, αναγνώστη, το παζλ, συλλέγοντας τα κομμάτια και προσπαθώντας να κατανοήσεις τι τελικά ήθελε να πετύχει και να μεταδώσει ο συγγραφέας, θα έχεις κερδίσει την ικανοποίηση της κατανόησης, αλλά θα έχεις χάσει την απόλαυση της ανάγνωσης. Θα νιώσεις εξυπνότερος, αλλά θα αποχωρήσεις φτωχότερος. Πιο συγκεκριμένα, η ουσία της αφηγηματικής τέχνης στο βιβλίο αυτό δεν βρίσκεται στις κεντρικές του ιδέες, αλλά στον τρόπο με τον οποίο ο Περέκ χειρίζεται τις μύριες όσες ιστορίες συνθέτουν τον καμβά της δημιουργίας – και, βεβαίως, στα πράγματα, όπως ανέφερα στην αρχή του κειμένου.

Οι ιστορίες των ενοίκων (παρόντων και παρελθόντων) της πολυκατοικίας, η οποία αποτελεί τον κεντρικό κορμό του έργου, αλληλοδιαδέχονται η μία την άλλη, άλλες με περίσσιο άλλες με λιγότερο ενδιαφέρον, όλες όμως απαραίτητες. Μέσα από τις ιστορίες αυτές ερχόμαστε σε επαφή με τους ήρωες και ενοίκους της πολυκατοικίας αυτής, με τη ζωή τους, με την παρουσία τους, το στίγμα τους. Οι εγκιβωτισμένες ιστορίες είναι αποσπασματικές βεβαίως, θραύσματα, μικρά κομμάτια του παζλ της ίδιας τους της ζωής μα και του ίδιου του βιβλίου εντέλει – καμία από μόνη της δεν αρκεί για να εξηγήσει το σύνολο, καθεμιά από αυτές είναι απαραίτητη για την ύπαρξή του.

Και τα αντικείμενα; Το κείμενο βρίθει αντικειμένων, πάσης φύσεως, χρησιμότητας, όψης και χρώματος. Θαρρείς, ιδίως στα πρώτα απαιτητικά και… δυσκοίλια κεφάλαια, πως τα αντικείμενα είναι οι ένοικοι της πολυκατοικίας αυτής, πως έχουν πάρει τη θέση των ανθρώπων – έχοντας αποσύρει τους κτήτορές τους, αναλαμβάνουν να πουν την ιστορία τους αντ’ αυτών. Τα αντικείμενα περιγράφονται από τον Περέκ ανηλεώς, ακατάσχετα, βουλιμικά, στα όρια του φετιχισμού, καταλαμβάνοντας πολύτιμο χώρο μεταξύ των εγκιβωτισμένων ιστοριών, στις σελίδες του βιβλίου.

Όποιος περιμένει σκιαγράφηση χαρακτήρων, ψυχογραφήματα και αναλύσεις περί των κλασικών θεμάτων που απασχόλησαν και απασχολούν την πεζογραφία από καταβολής της, δεν θα τα βρει εδώ. Ο Περέκ είναι ένας «τζιχαντιστής» του πειραματικού μεταμοντέρνου λόγου, και χαρισματικά ναρκοθετεί την ασφαλή μετάβαση από το αρκτικό στο καταληκτικό κεφάλαιο με πληθώρα… αντικειμένων. Και όμως, είναι τέτοια η πνοή που εμφυσά στο καθένα από αυτά, ώστε ολοκληρώνοντας έχουμε τη μαγική εντύπωση πως ζήσαμε τη ζωή, πως γνωρίσαμε από κοντά όλους τους χαρακτήρες των οποίων η φασματική ύπαρξη περιδιαβαίνει τις σελίδες.

Αν υποθέσουμε πως το… φεντεραλιστικό αυτό κείμενο έχει κάποιο κέντρο και κάποιον κεντρικό ήρωα, αυτός είναι ο μανιώδης δημιουργός/παίκτης /καταστροφέας παζλ Μπάτερλμπουθ, ο οποίος αποδίδεται με μανία σε μια παντελώς μάταιη ενασχόληση, έχοντας θέσει τον απαράβατο όρο πως τίποτα από το τιτάνιο έργο του δεν μπορεί να διασωθεί. Ο συγγραφέας ξιφουλκεί με το κλασικό θέμα της ματαιότητας των ανθρωπίνων εγχειρημάτων, τα οποία παραδίδονται ανυπερθέτως στη λήθη. «Και θα έρθει μια μέρα που θα εξαφανιστεί όλο το σπίτι, που όλος ο δρόμος και όλη η γειτονιά θα πεθάνουν». Κι όμως, αυτό είναι η ζωή: ένα παιχνίδι χωρίς νόημα, άχρονο και ταυτόχρονα πεπερασμένο. Και εμείς προσωρινοί ένοικοι της πολυκατοικίας, αριθμός 11 της οδού Σιμόν-Κρυμπελιέ, παρακολουθούμε τη ζωή των ηρώων, μετέχοντας των στιγμών, όσο τουλάχιστον διαρκεί το γύρισμα μια σελίδας, το τελείωμα ενός κεφαλαίου, η ολοκλήρωση του βιβλίου.

Και ποια η κατάληξη; Θα μπορούσε να είναι μια ιδέα του Μπόρχες: Ο αναγνώστης σηκώνεται αργά από την αναπαυτική του θέση, παρατηρεί τον χώρο ολόγυρά του, τα αντικείμενα που υποτονθορύζουν την προσωπική του ιστορία, βαδίζει προς τη βιβλιοθήκη και τοποθετεί εκεί τη Ζωή – μέρος της ζωής του πλέον κι αυτή. Στη συνέχεια, στέκει στοχαστικός, στρέφοντας τη ματιά του προς τα πάνω, προς τα έξω. Ίσως κάποιος άλλος (αναγνώστης κι αυτός ή δημιουργός;) εκείνη τη στιγμή ξεφυλλίζει το δικό του βιβλίο (το δικό σου, αναγνώστη!), καταμετρά τα αντικείμενά του, τις στιγμές της ζωής του –άλλες ενδιαφέρουσες, οι περισσότερες όχι–, έως ότου η ανία τον οδηγήσει στην απόφαση να το(ν) επιστρέψει στη λήθη των διαβασμένων βιβλίων, των σπαταλημένων ζωών… ad infinitum.

Υ.Γ. Απλά για να ξεκαθαρίζουμε λίγο τα πράγματα: Ο Περέκ ούτε κατά διάνοια δεν είναι Τζόυς (σύμφωνα με τις υπερβολικές κριτικές του οπισθόφυλλου). Όλο το βιβλίο θα μπορούσε ίσως να είναι ένα μικρό απόσπασμα ενός κεφαλαίου του «Οδυσσέα». Χρωστάει πολύ περισσότερα στον Μπόρχες (όπως κι όλη η ομάδα Oulipo, εξάλλου), αλλά ούτε και με αυτόν μπορεί να συγκριθεί ο Γάλλος.

Υ.Γ. 2 Για να είμαι απόλυτα ειλικρινής, πρόκειται για ένα βιβλίο που θαύμασα εγκεφαλικά, αλλά δεν μπορώ να πω πως απόλαυσα αναγνωστικά (παρά μόνο σε στιγμές και αφού το τελείωσα). Σε κάθε περίπτωση, δεν νομίζω πως θα επανέλθω σε αυτό (αφού ολοκλήρωσα επιτυχώς το παζλ, δεν έχει νόημα να το ξαναφτιάξω), όπως σκοπεύω να κάνω, ας πούμε, στην περίπτωση του «Οδυσσέα», ένα κείμενο που τα εμπεριέχει όλα.

Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,179 reviews9,235 followers
March 21, 2013
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-Pierre Jeunot, who brought the interconnected magical-puzzle aspects of life to - er - life in his great movie comedies Delicatessen (the dark version) and Amelie (the light version) and Micmacs (the crazy revenge fantasy version).


update : yes, I thought so.
Profile Image for Ana Cristina Lee.
641 reviews235 followers
September 14, 2021
Retratar un trozo de vida o más bien analizarlo, diseccionarlo con todos sus elementos, sin omitir nada. En concreto todo lo sucedido en un lugar determinado a lo largo del tiempo.

Específicamente un inmueble de París. Se trata de describir todos los espacios, los muebles, sus habitantes presentes y pasados, las relaciones entre ellos, en resumen, toda la vida que ha tenido lugar en ese punto. Todo ello organizado con la estructura de un puzzle y con un relato que se va moviendo entre los diferentes pisos como el caballo del juego de ajedrez.

El resultado es… abrumador. Hay tanta información que es difícil de asimilarlo todo, pero, en fin, es lo que hacemos en nuestro día a día, ¿o no? Realmente Perec propone un desafío literario del calibre del Ulises de Joyce, un desarrollo de la novela como herramienta de comprensión de la realidad. El famoso espejo de Stendahl se convierte aquí en un microscopio que nos quiere mostrar absolutamente todo, pero no ya los pensamientos como Joyce o Virginia Woolf, sino también las cosas materiales.

No es una obra cualquiera. La pregunta es si la experiencia lectora es placentera. En mi caso la respuesta es difícil. Sí, aprecio el mérito pero creo que requiere un nivel de concentración como un tratado de física y realmente para seguir bien la novela hay que consultar los planos, listas de personajes y otra información para no perderse. O dejarse llevar por la bella prosa de Perec, aunque a veces no sepas lo que estás leyendo. Creo que yo no lo leí bien, pero pensar en una segunda lectura me asusta un poco: es que no me da la vida para tanto!

Para el que esté interesado, aconsejo leer la entrada de Wikipedia primero, le aportará información útil:
Profile Image for Chris_P.
382 reviews254 followers
August 18, 2017
Life: A User's Manual

I seek the eternal and the ephemeral

Having just closed the book, I feel a bunch of things. Perec captures a certain moment in time in the lives of the residents of a certain building and gives us the most detailed description of this snapshot. Lists upon lists and descriptions upon descriptions of apartments, rooms, people, paintings and objects that compose this moment which, as is the case with all moments, doesn't consist only of present elements, but also ones that belong to the past. So, what this book really is, is a kaleidoscope of every possible thing, every possible story that is part of the snapshot.

It's not a book to pass the time with. It demands the reader's full attention and devotion. Going back and forth through the pages in order to not lose grip of the multitude of names and storylines, I felt I was having the fullest reading experience ever imaginable. Even so, I think it's impossible for one to discover all the "surprises" (see easter eggs) Perec has hidden in his text and if it hadn't been for Achilleas Kyriakidis' afterword -whose work in translating the book is a major accomplishment in itself-, I would have missed even more of them.

I don't think words can do this book justice. It's a book one has to read in order for one to understand its uniqueness and majesty. Trying to talk about it is like a blind man trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle. Nihilistic and optimistic in its own way, Life: A User's Manual is likely to stay in your mind for a long time. Italo Calvino called it the final major event in world literature. I don't know about it being the final, but it's certainly one of the most significant works of literature ever created.

Important Note: Best read with a cat on your lap or at least somewhere nearby.
Profile Image for Nick Craske.
120 reviews177 followers
January 20, 2016
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 and construct is a single Parisian apartment building and across 99 episodic chapters he describes in meticulous and often intricate detail each and every room. And we the viewer are transplanted from apartment-to-apartment (if one were to view the building front on like a Chess board) via a single knight's move.

A knight moves two squares parallel to one side of the board and one square parallel to the other side. Any such move always takes the knight to a square of the opposite colour. In 99 moves the knight can move across every square on the board...

Ostensibly, as we traverse the building and the matrix of descriptive details within, we are watching the creation of a painting by Serge Valene, an old artist who has lived in the building for 55 years.

A novel of such intense descriptive writing, you might think, would collapse in on itself under relentless documenting of detail. The opposite is true, for Perec also expresses the humanity in the heartfelt life stories —through the ages— of every inhabitant of the building. This array of ornate detail serves to amplify each person's story. The macro details lead us down into the elliptical narratives of each inhabitant in sweeping cinematic style: through elaborate vintage keyholes, ascending up into antique chandeliers to look down upon classical sheet music atop a rare Steinway piano to traverse the musical staves and begin learning of the history of each note’s inscription and the hand that wrote them; and the train they were on; and the train passenger’s neighbour’s hat… and the story behind the hat maker… and on, and up and diagonally across… through time and memory... from apartment-to-apartment... piece-by-piece… the jigsaw... the picture...

Life: A User's Manual can be read as a parable about the efforts of the human mind to impose an arbitrary order on the world. Or a meditation on memory... even the act of writing itself. This is a glorious book in both its inventive structure and its rich visual descriptions.

Profile Image for ΠανωςΚ.
369 reviews42 followers
September 21, 2019
Δεν έχω ιδέα πόσες φορές μονολόγησα «είναι τρελός ο τύπος, είναι τρελός» (με την καλή την έννοια). Η ανάγνωση (ενίοτε εξουθενωτική, πάντα όμως απολαυστική) ήταν εμπειρία ζωής.
223 reviews195 followers
November 18, 2013
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 like a bad case of clap, nothing interconnects properly and you need a site map of whos who and his cat. Sheesh. I'm a bread and butter kind of girl, gots to pass on the narrative gourmet on offer here: theres too many dips to dunk.
Profile Image for Marc.
3,041 reviews1,047 followers
December 25, 2019
Life, a never ending puzzle
A manual of a machine usually begins with the description of the parts and then shows how the machine works. The French writer Georges Perec (1936-1982) does more or less the same in this voluminous book. In each chapter he describes a room in a big house in Paris, starting with a detailed account of the objects in the room and then zooming in on the resident(s); often their story is more explicitly told.

In his foreword Perec offers a key to read this book: to look at it as a puzzle, beforehand constructed by someone, and to reconstruct it with the use of some techniques. This is in line with Perec's literary experiments and the Oulipo-group he was part of. It also suggests this book is no more than a kind of game, with no existential message.

I have some problem with this: implicitly in all the stories and lists there is a message. I read this as follows: men isn't capable to get a global look on the puzzle of life and detect a meaning, but nevertheless he strives (some more passionately than others) to fill out his life, to give it meaning; this results in a network of traces and objects (I refer to the lists of content of the rooms), and very often (almost always) in a sense of dissapointment and frustration.

Perec has created a tremendous work of art, very ingenious and intelligent, and also very erudite and encyclopedic. Furthermore some of his little stories are really beautiful; they tend to give this book the character of a new "1001-nights". But nevertheless, it doesn't convince me all the way: the endless lists, though they illustrate the richness and labyrinthic character of human life, are very dispiriting (I confess I read them rather diagonal in the second half of the book); above all I was very disappointed Perec always looks at the outside of objects and people, never disclosing the inside (which of course is much more difficult), and this explains why he misses the essence of life; his puzzle always remains but a puzzle, never more.
48 reviews55 followers
May 3, 2014
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 varying kernel of truth concerning the collective human experience. There's an index in the back of my volume of this book of just some of the innumerable stories contained therein. Upon perusing the index it's hard for me to imagine anyone coming away with a clear sense of exactly what this book is about (The Tale of the acrobat who did not want to get off his trapeze ever again, the Tale of the Designer who had to dismantle the kitchen he was so proud of, the Tale of the Hampster deprived of his favourite game, the Tale of the Lord who hid his secret passions beneath sham crazes, the Man who bought the Vase of the Passion, the Thrice-Murdered Jeweller....)

You'd think this all would be too much but, despite the scattered variety - a veritable freakshow - the novel feels whole and every character and every story seems to have found its place. This is not entirely due to the elaborate apartment block schema which so many other reviewers have shed immensely useful light on. It also has to do with the consistency of Perec's voice, filled with compassion for the vagaries of human life and a curiosity about all of the things of the world.

Throw on top of all of this the innumerable references to Perec's literary favorites littered through the book, we have something that is hard to put down. Apparently, every chapter has both a direct and veiled reference to or quotation of one of approximately twenty authors, including crowd favorites such as Joyce, Borges, Proust, and Kafka. (For a useful user's manual to Life a User's Manual visit: http://escarbille.free.fr/vme/?lmn=3)

I thought it would be fascinating to map out all of the hidden references in the novel - sort of like assembling a bunch of completely white jigsaw puzzles for the thrill of it. I gave it a shot figuring that I would have the best chance of picking up on either the Kafka or the Nabokov allusions. I quickly became exhausted though I did have a little success.

For example, from the above site I learned that Chapter 69 contained some form of hidden Nabokov reference, so I took up the very Nabokovian task of discerning that hidden reference with my bare hands and a large stack of Nabokov sitting nearby.

This first one was pretty easy, I opened to Chapter 69 and (bam!) right in the middle of the page is a diagram of a chess problem. In my mind that alone would have sufficed as evidence of a hidden Nabokov reference - but I kept digging anyway for the fun of it. A couple paragraphs in Perec describes in detail three pictures hanging on a wall (not the first or last time this happens). The second is by the American artist Organ Trapp - hmm Trapp, I've seen that name before, doesn't Humbert Humbert have some distant relative named Trapp who looks strikingly like Quilty? Humbert remembers this relative one day when he notices a man in his rear-view mirror following in a car behind him as he and Lolita make their escape across the country. The picture described by Perec depicts a gas station in Wyoming so we're definitely narrowing in on the road-trip chapters of Lolita where Nabokov really drums up his best roadside Americana. Perec lists the details of the gas station: "a green garbage can, very black, very whitewalled tyres for sale, bright cans of motor oil, a red icebox with assorted drinks." That rainbow of assorted junk has to be Nabokov. I got lucky on this one and knew roughly where to turn in Lolita and found the exact phrase about two pages into the 16th chapter of Part Two. My luck sort of ended there and I resorted to just googling particularly colorful passages in the other chapters I knew were supposed to contain Nabokov references.

I scoured through chapter 28 for a while since that is the first of the Nabokov chapters. A little snippet caught my eye, set off in italics at the bottom of a page - bleak walls, vacant eye-like windows. I threw this into my search bar and, lo and behold, a hit, but not what I am looking for. Turns out this little ditty comes from Poe's "Fall of the House of Usher." Poe isn't even on the cheat sheet chart! This is just a bonus Perec threw in for lonely little enchanted reference hunters like myself.

It's easy for me to get carried away with this sort of thing. I'd like to think that the social power of goodreads could somehow manage to unearth all of these little hidden gems and collect them all in one space because that would be awesome. If you have stumbled across any of the other hidden literary allusions let me know!

Anyway, this is a great book and it is amazing how Perec managed to pack in so much stuff (the references, the Knight's tour schema, etc) and still somehow manage to create and tie together so many far-flung and interesting stories about people who all lived in the same apartment block in Paris during one moment in time.
Profile Image for Francesco.
139 reviews
March 28, 2023
Non ha una trama ha tante trame... È un romanzo di romanzi... Biografie di precedenti abitanti degli appartamenti... E poi lui l'infinite jest francese che è sia finito che non finito... Puoi pianificare tutto ma se alla fine al posto di una X hai una W cosa è servito pianificare... Cosa sei disposto a rinunciare per quella X che ti manca?

questo romanzo è il TARDIS
Profile Image for Sinem.
295 reviews160 followers
August 13, 2019
Her kitap kendi zamanını gerçekten kendisi belirliyor. Masumiyet Müzesi'ni okumamış olsaydım basımının olmadığı 2011 yılında Eskişehir'de sahaftan buldurup bir arkadaşıma rica ederek aldırdığım kitabı muhtemelen okumayı ertelemeye devam edecektim.
Ortalama bir okur olmadığım halde bazı kitaplar gözümü korkutuyor. Yaşam Kullanma Kılavuzu da bunlardan biriydi. Ayfer Tunç'un Karanlıkta Kelimeler isimli söyleşi kitabında Bir Deliler Evinin Yalan Yanlış Anlatılan Kısa Tarihi'ni yazarken bu kitaptan esinlendiğini ve kendisinin başucu kitaplarından biri olduğunu okumuştum. Deliler Evi Türk edebiyatında okuduğum en iyi kitaplarda zirveye oynar benim için. Sırf bu sebeple bile olsa daha önce okumayı denemeliydim belki de, ama kendimi tanıyorsam muhtemelen yarım bırakırdım. Şu kadar satır yazdım daha kitaba gelemedim haha.
Masumiyet Müzesi bitince o detayda bir şey okumaya devam etmek istedim. Bu sebeple de ani bir kararla Yaşam Kullanma Kılavuzu'na başladım. Okuyunca anladım ki kitabın kendisinden sonra gelenleri etkilememesi mümkün değil çünkü durum kitabı olmakla birlikte bir şeyin edebi olarak fotoğrafı nasıl çekilir ya da tablosu nasıl yapılır bunu çok iyi göstermiş Perec.
4 yıldız vermemin sebebi bu kadar detayı durumla birlikte karakterlerde de görmek istiyor olmam. ben edebiyatta karakter oriented bir okurum. Evindeki tablonun ne renklerle boyandığını, tabloda neyin nerede durduğunu bildiğim insanın kısa hayat hikayesini biliyorum ama aslında kendisiyle pek tanışamadık. Çok amatör bir eleştiri belki ama ben biraz tersten tutuyorum kulağımı. Bu kitabın kurgusundan esinlenip ortaya Deliler Evi gibi bir şaheseri çıkarmış yazar beni sayısı 100'ü geçen karakterleriyle tanıştırabildi. Perec'ten de oturduğu yeri detaylıca bildiğim karakterleri hikayeleri haricinde dinlemek isterdim.
Bu eleştiriyi Perec'in yaptığı işi küçümsemek için yapmadım. Yıllar boyu tasarlayıp 2 yılda yazdığı bir apartman ve kuşaklar boyu içinde yaşamış insanları tasarlamak, bu fikri bulmak bile kitabı, yazarı takdir etmek için yeterli.
Profile Image for Juan Nalerio.
446 reviews72 followers
January 8, 2023
Una grata sorpresa haber leído esta obra, gran puzzle donde nos inmiscuimos en la vida de los habitantes presentes y pasados de un edificio parisino.

Cada apartamento tiene no sólo la descripción al detalle de su decorado, cuadros y muebles, sino que ahondamos en el microcosmos de sus habitantes y sus vidas.

Los distintos lugarares del edificio nos lleva a historias extravagantes, a fábulas, a catálogos. Ficción y realidad se mezclan en los 99 capítulos y los cerca de 1500 personajes que aparecen. El tono general es melancólico, y el autor logra transmitir los sentimientos de los protagonistas.

La edición cuenta con un par de índices muy útiles para no perderse. Es muy agradable dejarse llevar y extraviarse en este universo mágico de Perec.

Un must read de los buenos. No lo dejen pasar.
Profile Image for Jonfaith.
1,836 reviews1,343 followers
January 29, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Miloš Kostić.
41 reviews48 followers
March 6, 2016
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 kratko, u malom delu jednog poglavlja. Rezultat: ova knjiga ima indeks na sedamdeset strana! Poželjno je zavidno pamćenje koje meni nedostaje tako da sam često koristio indeks. To se ne može izbeći.
Detaljni dokumentaristički opisi prostorija, nameštaja i umetnina su u svakom poglavlju, oni čine najmanje trećinu knjige. Moram priznati da sam potpuno preskočio nekoliko spiskova (na primer, celokupni spisak alata iz kataloga jedne firme), kuhinjskih recepata i sličnih stvari. Često mi je to bilo veoma naporno. Kada budem ponovo čitao ovu knjigu, možda ću je čitati prateći indeks i obraćajući pažnju samo na radnju, prateći lik po lik. Ipak, toliko detaljni opisi deluju kao lep okvir za više od sto fantastičnih pričica čiji poseban indeks takođe postoji na kraju knjige.
Najzanimljivija mi je bila centralna priča o ekscentričnom milijarderu koji dvadeset godina uči da slika akvarele, zatim dvadeset godina putuje oko sveta da bi naslikao razne svetske luke i na kraju dvadeset godina slaže slagalice napravljene od tih istih slika koje na kraju uništava. Dakle nekoliko "romana" iz romana-slagalice je o pravljenju i slaganju slagalica. Oni opisi nameštaja doprinose osećaju da se slaže slagalica zato što su priče uramljene njima i sakrivene u njima.
Dakle, koncept knjige je previše zanimljiv da bi mi (ne baš) nekoliko dosadnih opisa stvarno zasmetalo. Stvarno sam uživao u slaganju ove slagalice.
Knjigu sam pozajmio iz biblioteke. Na žalost, u ovom trenutku u Srbiji nikako nije moguće kupiti ovu knjigu, čak ni polovnu. Kao da niko ne želi da se oprosti od svog primerka :)
Profile Image for Alex.
476 reviews103 followers
April 15, 2018
This was a very original book. 99 chapters, each containing something else. You can practically read this book starting with what chapter you want and then go in a random fashion and it won't be a problem.
The descriptions of Perec are almost photographic, they really challenge your power of imagination. He starts at the door and then goes deep and describes something written in a book which is shown in a photograph held by a guy who is in a painting. Something like that.
The characters of Perec stay with you, their stories and lives.
It was very interesting to read it, the stories are nice and well written. But I give 4 stars because somehow in the end it kinda lost me. I read the last 100 pages superficially because I wanted to get over with it.

As I said, very very original !I am glad I read it. It is said that Paul Auster is a big fan. Well, he might learn something from Perec. Perec has a lot of imagination, Auster doesn't !
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