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53 Days (Verba Mundi) Hardcover – 1 Mar 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher; 1st American Ed edition (1 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567920888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567920888
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,185,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun. 2002
Format: Hardcover
53 days is the length of time in which Stendahl wrote The Charterhouse of Parma, and this postmodern mystery story was Perec's attempt to emulate his feat. What there is of 53 Days is enough to convince that this would have been another classic Perec.
His lifelong love of the detective novel informs this witty and complex chinese box-puzzle of a story; unfortunately, we never get to see it resolved. The latter part of the book consists of extracts from Perec's notebooks as he sketched out the plot; perhaps someone with more patience and ingenuity than me could reconstruct his intentions.
In many ways, this book is as melancholy as it is entertaining. Perec still had great novels in him; it's a tragedy we never got to read them.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A coda to a variegated career 11 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Perec's literary output was as varied as anyone's, comprising everything from encyclopedic novels to comic couplets, but he was consistent in one way--the quality of his writing was always excellent. Each of his works revelled in the myriad delights of language, whatever its subject. In this novel, published posthumously in an unfinished form, he uses the generic elements of the mystery novel, confounding and fulfilling them at the same time. A writer disappears from a fictional French African colony, and an unwilling acquaintance is drafted to study the vanished man's final manuscript for clues. The usual dangerous woman makes an appearance, and there are plenty of veiled warnings that the search should be dropped, but at each turn the narrator, well-versed in fictive custom, recognizes the conventions and turns them on their heads. The chapters abound with references to other works, classics and potboilers alike, and the plot in fact begins to hinge on them. Perec scholars or fans will additionally note a host of allusions to his own oeuvre and coded biographical details. Mystery aficionados will be disappointed that "53 Days" was never completed, but its editors have included the outlines and notes that wrap the story up; anyone with an interest in the writing process should find that these appendices more than make up for what's missing.
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