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Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  2,569 ratings  ·  170 reviews
George Perec produced some of the most entertaining and spirited essays of his age, and Species of Spaces and Other Pieces is edited and translated from the French with an introduction by John Sturrock in Penguin Classics.

Georges Perec, author of Life: A User's Manual, was one of the most surprising and enjoyable of all modern French writers. The pieces in this volume show
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Paperback, 292 pages
Published August 1st 1998 by Penguin Classics (first published 1974)
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Glenn Russell
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing



Georges Perec (1936-1982) - “What a marvelous invention man is! He can blow on his hands to warm them up, and blow on his soup to cool it down.”

Georges Perec, age 45, told an interviewer how books by authors he loved when he was in his 20s were like pieces of a puzzle but there were still spaces between the pieces and those were the spaces where he could write. He went on to say how he would like to write everything in every way possible, including children’s books, science fiction, detective no
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Steven Godin
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books where you feel the world around you expand, it's an enlightening and stimulating experience, dynamic, inspirational even, it will open your mind to architecture, furniture, and space dynamics. It will have you thinking deeply of your dining table, your home, your garden, your street, your town, and beyond. Perec was simply one of kind. My personal view is that we were robbed of one of one the geniuses of our time. Had he been around for longer, I am sure his work would ...more
Χαρά Ζ.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First time reading Perec. It felt strange, real, dreamy and at times, too honest. I liked it. And i believe, the more time passes, the more i am into the book. Great stuff.
Chris_P
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think, in order to properly review Species of Spaces you have to be as genius as Perec was and I'm not. I don't think there's any point in talking about this little book. Just read it and let it make its way inside you the way it's meant to. It must also be quite an experience to read it under the influence of hallucinogenics, although, it can act like one by itself. Great stuff! ...more
Adam Floridia
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: being-a-human
Species of Spaces 5/5:

Something about Perec’s originality just really gets me. His attention to detail, his ability to notice the everyday, but more so his taking the time to pay attention, to notice the everyday is some combination of the words “breathtaking” and “touching” that I can’t pin down. It’s like he embodies those hackneyed saying “you’ve got to stop to smell the roses” or “Life move’s pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around, you might miss it” (thanks Ferris). Of course, Perec
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Paul
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a good deal of non-fiction by way of research, thus for leisure purposes, I tend to read fiction. Hence, I've read all of Perec's fiction, much of it more than once, but had only read one of his non-fiction pieces (I've read about Perec, though, in Bellos's comprehensive biography).

As I was reading this charming book, I thought to myself, Ah, I recognise the structure of this book - it's that exaggeration of your address that you sometimes wrote as a child! And sure enough, on page 84, Pe
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Quiver

To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself.


Perec takes space apart item by item, list by list, observation by observation: his bed, his room, his apartment, his building, his neighbourhood, his city, his country, Europe, the World, Space. Then he reassembles it for you on the page. Whilst most authors tend of want to escape the confines of the page, and take the reader into the imagined realms beyond, I had the feeling that Perec was attempting
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Andrew
Feb 14, 2011 added it
Shelves: oulipo, essays
If you want a plot, or if you want a cohesive argument, then Perec isn't for you. If you want beautifully rendered belles-lettres about everything and nothing, then he should be right up your alley. In this slender volume of spatial meditations, lists, word games, and other odd ends, Perec as a person shines forth. In his novels, he seemed to exist more as a method, a way of writing. Even in the autobiographical, W or the Memory of Childhood, the childhood reminiscences didn't give us a terribly ...more
Ronald Morton
With these, the sense of the world’s concreteness, irreducible, immediate, tangible, of something clear and closer to us: of the world, no longer as a journey having constantly to be remade, not as a race without end, a challenge having constantly to be met, not as the one pretext for a despairing acquisitiveness, nor as the illusion of a conquest, but as the rediscovery of a meaning, the perceiving that the earth is a form of writing, a geography of which we had forgotten that we ourselves a
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Stephanie McGarrah
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was my first book by Perec, and even though I was intrigued by some of the reviews, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I was expecting something difficult to read, but the only part that went over my head were the word games at the end of the book, (kudos to anyone who knew the answers to these) and I still loved reading about them. He was quite the wordsmith.

The short pieces that make up Species of Spaces are eclectic, varying in style. I loved this approach to writing and if
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Andrea
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
George Perec is an author whose work fills me with delight, Species of Space and the other pieces found in this collection are wonderful. Insightful. Playful. Everyday. Extraordinary. Not least because he loves lists as much as I do, more perhaps. I read his piece on the Place Sans-Sulpice , and meant to read this too before going to Paris. So now it calls me back.

I particularly love how Perec is obsessed with space, but approaches it completely differently than would a planner, an architect,
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Feliks
Oct 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not at all satisfying. Georges Perec comes across as very, very, creepy. And his schtick is mostly 'list' mania. Every chapter is about little else than this fetish of his.

He simply makes mental lists of everything around him and everything he can ever remember being around him. Lists of things to do, lists of things he hasn't done, lists of things he did once, lists of things he'll never do again. It quickly grows wearisome.

Moreover, the writing style is dry and crackling, uncooperative, chop
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Noah Goats
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
There are times when Perec is interesting, insightful, or charming, and there are other times (and these are the majority) when he is ostentatiously dull. Take his essay, “Objects That Are On My Work Table.” As you might have guessed from the title, the essay is a boring list of the boring objects on Perec’s boring table. It also includes some of his commonplace observations about these objects: what purposes they serve, how they came to be on his table. Why he thought anyone would give a greasy ...more
Bjorn
May 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
Espèces d'espaces (1974) (which has the trying-too-hard English title Species of Spaces and Other Pieces) isn't a novel, rather it's more of a freeform essay on the subject of space. Not in the "outer space" astronomical sense, but rather in the sense of how we take up space - how we inhabit it, how we imbue it.

Several times, I've tried to imagine a flat in which there'd be a completely unnecessary room, absolutely and deliberately unnecessary. It wouldn't be a storage room, or an extra bedroom
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TinHouseBooks
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Veronica Martin (Editorial Intern, The Open Bar): My end of summer, transitional reading list is less a putting together and more a falling together than anything. One book that has ended up crossing summer’s boundary is George Perec’s Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. It turns out, Perec is kind of the perfect person to read at this juncture. Moving from one season into the next is very much a clearing of space, a brief moment when passing between two walled rooms—summer, fall—you find yourse ...more
Anne
This book is simply wonderful. I had to read a piece of it for a class but ended up finishing the whole book in the end. Once I was struck by Perec's unconventional and enjoyable way of writing, I just had to read more.

(If you haven't heard of Perec, there is a chance you might have heard of one of his books. It's a piece of trivia I encountered many years before I came across its author. Perec is the author of La Disparition, a full-length French novel written completely without the letter 'e'.
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Pamela
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Comprised of lists (things to do before death), food inventories (everything ingested in 1974), vignettes about space (page, bedroom, apartment, street, country, space, etc...), and autobiographical essays with sentences that describe everyday objects and allude to 20th c. atrocity in the same breath (he was orphaned by the holocaust and never mentions it)...his emotionally reticent style and tendency to withhold & supply detail at all the wrong moments give the reader the "space" to have emotio ...more
Magdalena
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
this: "Space melts like sand running through one's fingers. Time bears it away and leaves me only shapeless shreds: To write: to try meticulously to retain something, to cause something to survive; to wrest a few precise scraps from the void as it grows, to leave somewhere a furrow, a trace, a mark or a few signs." and also this: "the world, no longer as a journey having constantly to be remade, not as a race without an end, a challenge having constantly to be met, not as the one pretext for a d ...more
Jason
Sep 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, shorts
By far my favorite work of Perec, and probably in my top ten books of all time. It is a great introduction to his style; if you can't get into this, don't bother with Perec. One of my favorite works struggling with the enigma of the written word, what it means to be a writer, what it means to be a reader. ...more
Alicia
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This man was a genius. This is a great collection to take your time over, and savor every word. There are so many of them, and they make you think in so many new ways.
Courtney
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: other people with ocd
I love the list of everything he ate for a year.

I wish he'd lived longer, so we could have been friends.
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Tường-Vân
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this book Georges Perec muses on daily life, the bed, the apartment, the building, the city, the neighborhood, the countryside, food, cooking, clothes, and 243 postcards for Italo Calvino. And there’s a parachuting experience greatly told.
I love his attention and care for the ordinary things and his meticulousness in writing about them.
Jesse
Sep 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
One of the essays collected in this volume ("Robert Antelme or the Truth of Literature," 1962) carries an odd disclaimer from the compiler: "this essay dates to a time when Perec was more political in his outlook than he subsequently became," which seems to suggest that the content of the piece would be rendered invalid by a subsequent ideological shift on Perec's part.

It is in this piece, though, that Perec best sums up what was clearly his lifelong literary mission. He would be more succinct i
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twrctdrv
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Note before review: My rating is based on both Species of Spaces and the supplemental readings. If it were just Species, this rating would be five stars.

First, on Species:
It's been about a month or two between when I read this piece and now, but it's stuck with me the whole time. Perec pays close attention to everything around him, zooming out from the page he writes on the the whole of the universe, and along the way he observes things as simple as a man locking his car to go to the store, the
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Facundo Martin
Jan 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
C
O
SPECIES OF ANIMALS E
N
E
ENDANGERED SPECIES S
W T
R H
HUMAN SPECIES I E T
T S I
E I M
SPECIES OF S P A C E S
E A P
R R A
E T C
C O E
G
R
A
P
H
Y

Georges Perec's Species of Spaces is a playful reimagining of our everyday surroundings and our relationship with them. You could read it, for example, on your computer (estimated screen surface: 96.1 sq. in) or in paperback (estimated page surface: 46.75 sq. in). The arrangement of the words will vary depending on your choice of device, but t
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Prabhat Saraswat
An absolutely brilliant book. I picked this book from a stock clearance sale of a book store, The image of the man himself intrigued me very much. As i read a little more, I knew this would be a beautiful book! Brought it! and yes it was. :)

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

Then begins a journey through spaces. Spaces around us,
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Liliana Amundaraín
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the second of Perec's works I read in original language. I found this book quite easy to read in terms of both French writing style and the story itself. This work seems to me an in between a novel and an essay. As an architect, I appreciate the telescopic treatment of scale within the different physical spaces considered by the author. Although the abstract dimension of this subject may even seem complicated, the facts told build up a very fluid narrative. ...more
Jacob Wren
Georges Perec writes:

In an old house in the 18th arrondissement I saw a WC that was shared by four tenants. The landlord refused to pay for the lighting of the said WC, and none of the four tenants was willing to pay for the three others, or had accepted the idea of a single meter and a bill divisible into four. So the WC was lit by four separate bulbs, each controlled by one of the four tenants. A single bulb burning night and day for ten years would have obviously been less expensive than inst
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Kim Marie
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It just goes to prove that oftentimes the best things come in small packages. Perec essentially looks at the various "Spaces" we inhabit in our everyday lives - from our bedrooms to our city blocks to our neighbors, our country and the world at large. His clever insights make the mundane seem extraordinary. I think he challenges us to open our minds to creatively look at the world around us not as a series of confinements but as a series of opportunities for reflection, playfulness and adventure ...more
J
Mar 30, 2009 rated it liked it
Absum-intellectualism.

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

Interesting ideas, plays with the mind: existentialism. Is definitely an architect of form; though slight confusion with its language.
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Spieces of Spaces - Open Book Discussion 3 3 May 09, 2020 01:15PM  
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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 emigra
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