- Paperback: 581 pages
- Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher; Reprint edition (1 Nov. 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879237511
- ISBN-13: 978-0879237516
- Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.5 x 3.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,181,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Life, A Users Manual Paperback – 1 Nov 1988
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"A dazzling, crazy-quilt monument to the imagination" (Paul Auster New York Times)
"An eccentric, madly ambitious scheme to display life all at once. The product of a hectically ingenious intelligence, like James Joyce's" (Victoria Glendinning The Times)
"Amazing, moving and lovable" (New Statesman)
"The finest novel to appear in French since Beckett's trilogy" (Times Literary Supplement)
"Very funny and very sad... A treasure-chest of stories, something to be enjoyed by anyone who has ever responded to works on the same scale and in the same spirit as Rabelais and Chaucer and Sterne" (Scotsman) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
'The last major event in the history of the novel' Italo Calvino --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Bartlebooth, cursed with inexhaustable reserves of time and money, effectively decides to turn his own life into a work of art, by touring the world for twenty years painting 500 watercolours of seaports, which are then turned into jigsaws by one of the apartment's other occupants, Gaspard Winckler.Read more ›
A wonderful, memorable read. Treat yourself.
Each chapter contains within its three or four pages, puzzles, enigmas, stories, anecdotes, histories and characters completely aside from the main narrative which runs in detached threads from the first pages to the last, assembled piece by piece like a jigsaw. The conclusion is ultimately moving and sad, but most of all rewarding. This book is about all facets of life, from the truly mundane to the most far fetched and eccentric; simply written, Perec has acheived quite a feat in making this complicated and highly illusive(and allusive) novel so absolutely readable. He is a member of the oulipo workshop as are Calvino and Queneau.
One thing which you may notice from time to time while reading are whole chunks of prose borrowed from, or at the least alluding to, other writers. While reading I noticed a passage by Kafka that had been carefully weaved into a sub-plot within one of the chapters. On the last page on the book all the authors he has borrowed from are cited so you can, if you wish, read the novel like a literary train spotter though I would advise that you don't, you'd perhaps be missing the point.
In summise: marvelous, probably unique, and great fun. A shame much is probably lost in translation but such is the way with many great books.
Four stars for being an amazing read the fifth for originality.
But does it matter that it transgresses some of the rules? No, because it has strange and compelling compensations, in the form of the story of the 20th century in a particular place. There are tragedies, love affairs, murders, mysteries, eccentricities galore, and this collage effect is above all sensitive to the art and culture of Paris. Its multifarious characters and life stories are like a strange mosaic that offers unending novelty and drama - but without the overarching themes that a novel usually uses to give cohesion and meaning. Meaning, indeed, is problematic, as it is in life. Perhaps this is the key to this strange achievement? In any case it is a marvellous read, full of curiosity and adventure, but also strangely static. As we look onto our own history, we will no doubt see the same mixture of banality, movement, beauty and morbidity. This is a user's manual after all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some of the people in this book lead exciting lives, some don't. They add together to make a book of melancholy charm.Published 3 months ago by Dorya
If you share the author’s fondness for the glacial pacing of Proust and Laurence Sterne’s willingness to play with form then you are likely to enjoy this. Read morePublished 4 months ago by tallmanbaby
Clever I suppose but leaves one with the feeling that George could have achieved the same end by randomly culling paragraphs from nowhere in particular. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mastwitch Spume
our bookclub as a whole did not like this book. It was like a beautifully written catalogue of interior design in a block of flats. Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2014 by Rikki Harcourt
Wonderful book ! Fascinating level of detail & great stories within a story. Extremely well crafted story-telling Highly recommended ,Published on 17 Nov. 2013 by Valerie Ross
to me, it seems so amusing that another reviewer called this 'an exercise in futility, but not for me'. forgive me for being so pedantic... Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2013 by lushchica