A review of Things: A Story of the Sixties and A Man Asleep by Georges Perec April 9, With merciless persistence Perec pursues the crowd of shallow young men and women with their dissatisfactions which they mistake for pleasures and with their greatest goals both paltry and foolish. They have a need for one another but no loyalty, no capacity for friendship. Restless and dissatisfied, they see money as their only cure. Both Gide and Montherlant wrote books of this kind and so the type must be at home in France.
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Shelves: novels For a brief shining moment Things by Georges Perec stood on my real-life to-be-read shelf next to Flings by Justin Taylor, and I had half a mind to go the whole hog and buy Strings by Allison Dickson and Wings by Aprilyne Pike to go with them. Georges would have liked that I think. But I read Flings, then Things and Strings and Wings have faded into the unserious penumbra of whimsy which seems to follow me around most days.
This novel is not really a novel, its a rueful self-filleting, a wry For a brief shining moment Things by Georges Perec stood on my real-life to-be-read shelf next to Flings by Justin Taylor, and I had half a mind to go the whole hog and buy Strings by Allison Dickson and Wings by Aprilyne Pike to go with them. Jerome and Sylvie, and their friends, all drift from being uncommitted students to casual work for market research agencies, none of them have proper careers.
They have the taste of the upper middle class but they have no money. Things is page after page of more than a little self-loathing contemptuous analysis of the lives and attitudes of Jerome and Sylvie, with lists of all the stuff they bought, the things. There is no dialogue at all, and no discernible events. Here he is mocking their pretentious political paranoia: The enemy was unseen. Or rather, the enemy was within them, it had rotted them, infected them, eaten them away.
They were the hollow men, the turkey round the stuffing. Tame pets, faithfully reflecting a world which taunted them. They were up to their necks in a cream cake from which they would only ever be able to nibble crumbs. Here it is again. Take a look at this sentence: In advertising circles — which were generally located by quasi-mystical tradition to the left of centre, but were rather better defined by technocracy, the cult of efficiency, modernity, complexity, by the taste for speculating on future trends and by the more demagogic strain in sociology, as well as by the still very widespread opinion that nine-tenths of the population were fools just able to sing the praises of anything or anybody in unison — in advertising circles, then, it was fashionable to despise all merely topical political issues and to grasp History in nothing smaller than centuries.
Okay, one thing does happen to our tiresome and fraying at the edges couple — they observe their circle of friends dwindling as they each decide to join the salaried middle class properly by getting proper jobs and going to live in the suburbs.
This is the best part of the book, the disillusion of this brief dream is something we all might have experienced. Sadness and deflation is what this brief novel is all about. You have been warned. In such a vacuum, precisely because of this vacuum, because of the absence of all things, because of such a fundamental vacuity, such a blank zone, a tabula rasa, they felt as if they were being cleansed So everything has to be Perecised — three synonyms, minimum, or the reader will simply not understand.
I felt bamboozled, banjaxed and almost bullied, as if George was prodding his finger, his appendage, his digit right into my sternum, my chestal cavity, my very frontage.
A review of Things: A Story of the Sixties and A Man Asleep by Georges Perec
He was a distant relative of the Yiddish writer Isaac Leib Peretz. Perec was taken into the care of his paternal aunt and uncle in , and in he was formally adopted by them. A few reviewers have noted that the daily handling of records and varied data may have had an influence on his literary style. Perec also created crossword puzzles for Le Point from on. He was a writer in residence at the University of Queensland , Australia, in , during which time he worked on 53 Jours 53 Days , which he would not finish. Shortly after his return from Australia, his health deteriorated.
Things: A Story of the Sixties; A Man Asleep
Yet the novel is also a monologue spoken, in the film version that Perec directed, by means of a female voice-over in which every sentence is cast in the second person singular. Like Things, it must be read at one level as the virtuoso elaboration of a simple grammatical figure. The realization transforms an emptiness which, for a reader, was becoming awfully empty. Suddenly Perec shows a beauty on the far side of the void; a humanity on the far side of refusal. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole.