Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Things: A Story of the Sixties / A Man Asleep

Things by Georges Perec
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

really liked it
bookshelves: literature

2 early pre-OuLiPo novels of Perec. Given that Perec is in my top 10 favorite writers, I read everything that I come across by him & he can, basically, 'do no wrong'. As is usually the case, I like creative people who continue to be creative: ie: who manage to make new work that's significantly different from their older work. Perec exemplifies this. Each thing I've read by him has been significantly different from each other, each has been strong.

I'd call both novels vaguely (or, perhaps, not so vaguely) Existentialist. Wch is weird for me b/c I don't think I've ever called the writings of anyone other than the obvious Camus & Sartre that. They're not so vaguely sad & make me think of writing in general as a form of 'insanity'. I mean, what type of person chooses to spend their time in what's usually a highly isolated & isolating activity - probably in the hopes that other (often also isolated) people, the readers, will experience the product? THEN, who chooses to have that product be about, 1st, in "Things", a subtle (or not so subtle?) sense of perpetual dissatisfaction typically critiqued as "consumerism" but, perhaps, more indicative of an even broader human condition: a striving for the 'impossible' (or unlikely); & 2nd, in "A Man Asleep", about a person whose depression practically reduces them to a zombie? (Did you forget that that long-winded sentence was working toward being a question?)

According to David Bellos' introduction, Perec, himself, went thru a similar period to that of the main character (essentially the 'only' character) in "A Man Asleep". I'd've pretty much taken that for granted even if Bellos hadn't so informed me. The character, who mostly drops out of social society, reminds me of a guy I know who's reputed to've been a law student at a local university. Now he's a street person who claims he doesn't know what happened to himself - except that he developed a problem of feeling "paralyzed" & incapable of doing things. He says he tried to hang in there but cdn't. Now he's widely known as being the filthiest street person w/ the most tattered clothes. Perec's character fares much better. For one thing he has money that he budgets carefully, he has a place to live, he can afford to eat & go to the movies, he stays clean. But, otherwise, he's somewhat mind-numbing to read about.

&, of course, there's Perec's writing itself. His descriptions are marvelous & sensitive - no doubt in large part, here, thanks to David Bellos' & Andrew Leaks' equally marvelous & sensitive translations.
2 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Things.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 10, 2009 – Finished Reading
December 11, 2009 – Shelved
December 11, 2009 – Shelved as: literature

No comments have been added yet.