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Georges Perec

Georges Perec (1936–82) won the Prix Renaudot in 1965 for his first novel Things: A Story of the Sixties, and went on to exercise his unrivalled mastery of language in almost every imaginable kind of writing, from the apparently trivial to the deeply personal. 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. Life A User’s Manual, which draws on many of Perec’s other works, appeared in 1978 after nine years in the making and was acclaimed a masterpiece to put beside Joyce’s Ulysses. It won the Prix Médicis and established Perec’s international reputation.

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  • Poole posits Perec perecquially

    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 …

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  • "A Raise Raises Complex Issues"—George Perec's The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise

    "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 RaiseStylistically, 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.

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  • Praise for Perec's inquisitive spirit in The Millions review of The Art Of Asking Your Boss For A Raise

    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.

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