The Guardian’s Steven Poole embraces the expression that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” to its literal extreme in his review of Georges Perec’s The Art and Craft of Approaching Your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise, also known as L’art et la manière d’aborder son chef de service pour lui demander une augmentation, also known as The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise.
Poole tackles the Vintage UK edition, released concurrently with the Verso edition, as he assimilates the stylism of Perec and circumperambulates about the task of reviewing the unconventional text—and, à la L’art et la maniere d’aborder (ou à L’art?), dispenses of punctuation and capitalization, writes in the second person, and establishes a series of hypothetical situations, all within the span of a single-sentence review.
To quote Poole mid-sentence:
… functioning as a satire for the author’s day and oh yes our own on the subtly crushing effects of corporate life which was always after all the genius of perec to marry a deeply humane melancholy with dazzling formal experiments of which this one is also a deftly recursive simulation of the choices facing the writer of fiction as the text circles back on itself with varied refrains such as …
"George Perec's books in English are always the best looking," declares Laird Hunt in a recent review of The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise. Stylistically, Verso's 2011 edition of Perec's neurotic and pessimistic vision of office work "is every bit as handsome as its predecessors."
Handsome presentation isn't the only good news here. If The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise isn't likely to engender a significant reenvisioning of the Perec archipelago, it at least adds an outlying island of genuine interest.
In a review published today of Georges Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss For A Raise, Anne K. Yoder opens with one of the book's quintessential (and oft-repeated) mantras: "Let's keep things simple, for we must do our best to keep things simple, otherwise we would be utterly lost."
Yoder goes on, following in Perec's stylistic footsteps, to examine The Art in ten succinct points. Keenly simple, the article's structure accentuates Yoder's perceptive observations on Perec's philosphy and approach to writing:
3. Fiction like this, that follows the structure of a computer program, is called "matrix literature." A situation is presented, the answer is either yes or no, and the next move depends entirely on the answer. Either your boss (mr x) is in his office or he isn't, either his secretary (miss wye) is at her desk and willing to shoot the breeze or she's not.
In the first installment of their monthly book club, the literary website Full Stop read, and loved, Georges Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise. Of the story inspired by a computer flow chart, they say:
Perec's knack for absurdity and circumlocution ensures that each iteration is novel and urgent ... There is more to be had here than cleverness. There is friction in the flowchart, entropy in the machine, and as individual work becomes lost in a loop of Sisyphean labor and anonymous bureaucracy, 'the organisation to which you feel proud to belong' becomes 'the company in whose wheels you are at most a miniscule cog' becomes 'the consortium which pays you a pittance while grinding away the best years of your life.'
Yet another stellar review for The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise. In a March 29 review, James McAuley of the Harvard Crimson extols Georges Perec for his legendarily playful use of language and thematic expression.
Elusive French writer Georges Perec may have died in 1982, but thanks to the recent reissue of an oft-forgotten literary experiment from his later years, his humor and his cunning live again. Published in book form for the first time and translated into English by Perec's biographer, Princeton's David Bellos, Perec's delightfully odd The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise paints a playful portrait of the neurotic corporate mind as it attempts to construct a logical template for financial success and-in a more abstract sense-human recognition.
Visit the Harvard Crimson to read the review in full.