This is a truely marvelous book, a gem, and a joy to read. I was a little perturbed at first as I have struggled in the past with such oddly structured books, this however was a page turner from the outset.
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.