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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The ephemeral and the eternal"
Georges Perec's wonderful title perhaps requires an opening warning that this is an experimental novel rather than a New Age self-help guide ... but a novel unlike any that I've ever read before. He takes a Paris apartment block on a single day (23rd June 1975), and moves round individual rooms in the various flats in an order which is apparently determined by a...
Published on 3 Jan 2007 by Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas

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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in futility
Sadly did nothing for me. I'm sure writing within the bizarre constraints the author has imposed on himself is technically admirable and he has clearly spent enormous effort in imagining in microscopic detail multiple aspects of the many lives described but, for the most part, it was like reading a book of sudoku or an index. There are minute detailed descriptions of...
Published on 22 April 2012 by I McIntosh


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a briilliant exercise in futility., 18 Mar 2013
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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...but surely the entire premise of this book is the exercise in futility that we call life. if there is a main character in the building that is the whole universe of this novel, it is bartlebooth, a man so rich that he has devised a plan for his life so deviously futile that despite 50 years, a complete plethora of skills, workmen, travels, paint, glue, jigwaws and postage, he still cant complete, and is left with a jigsaw piece in his hand, that you might think that there is no reason for his life in the first place. but you would be wrong. there is a reason for the lives of every person in this book, in this building, if only to explain the reason for something else. it is a rabbit warren of a read, it is, undoubtedly about the futility of life, but it is brilliantly written, so funny it makes you laugh out loud, and its just life in all its stupidity. it has no narrative, you do not connect with any of the residents, it is a jumble of stories and subterfuges. sometimes you find out why, sometimes you dont..it could be the diary of any building in the world. people come and go, have kids, plans, become rich, lose it all, get murderded, get happy, move away, come back, have another marriage, steal, buy, etc etc. if you are a nosey person and love looking through peoples windows to see what paintings they have on their walls, you will just love this...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of world literature all right but..., 19 Mar 2010
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...it should be noted that contrary to the item description, THIS IS NOT A BILINGUAL EDITION.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Perec, 28 Oct 2007
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T. Harvey "Tim" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
A Paris apartment block becomes a virtual chessboard in a book of games and puzzles. A multitude of stories amasses around the objects and facts that fill each room and each individual connected with the building. And at its core, there is the story of Bartlebooth, the wealthy gentleman who decides on an arbitrary course of existence that will take a lifetime to achieve, and his puzzle-maker, Gaspard Winckler, who ultimately frustrates his plan. Its beauty for me lies in the fact that its form so fully mirrors its content. Just as Perec bases the journey from room to room on the knight's tour round the chessboard, landing once and once only on each square, so he exerts his freedom from these self-imposed structures and rules by making a false move. And these are not the only rules that Perec used to write the novel. This adherence to arbitrary structures has its mirror in Bartlebooth's essentially pointless, yet rigorously constructed, life; the exertion of freedom, in Winckler's final revenge. Like 100 Years Of Solitude, its many, many threads come together at the last. Like Invisible Cities, it is the things that are least mappable (the flight of the swallows) that ultimately have the most meaning.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life in a Parisian Apartment Block, 17 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
Wonderful book ! Fascinating level of detail & great stories within a story. Extremely well crafted story-telling Highly recommended ,
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life: A User's Manual by Georges Perec., 20 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
Loved its erudition and unremitting attention to the detritus of living. May not be to everyone's taste -would suit obsessives.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in futility, 22 April 2012
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I McIntosh (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
Sadly did nothing for me. I'm sure writing within the bizarre constraints the author has imposed on himself is technically admirable and he has clearly spent enormous effort in imagining in microscopic detail multiple aspects of the many lives described but, for the most part, it was like reading a book of sudoku or an index. There are minute detailed descriptions of apparently every item in every room, there are interminable lists.

To be fair, there are occasional quaint and entertaining diversions into the back stories of some of the characters which engage temporarily from the tedium; like finding a few loose leafed short stories interspersed in a dry encyclopaedia.

Most of the characters seem to fail in their plans. The supreme irony for me is that the author convinced me to waste my life away reading it, not unlike Bartlebooth's time-wasting master plan of futility.

User tip: Live your life: don't read this...
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life, 13 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
There is just so much in this book. Thousands of distractions, details and puzzles and yet the amazing narrative of Bartlebooth's life may make you assess your life in the way it did for me. A couple of years ago I went to a literary talk by the translator (David Bellos) where he left the audience totally astounded as he related the details of how Perec constructed this book.
I'll be honest and say that most people I've lent this book to, didn't finish it. So don't bother to read this book unless you are prepared to savour the details and the hundreds of little stories that are weaved into the substantial main narrative. Perec was a genius, without doubt, and this book stands with Ulysses as one of the greatest and least read novels of the century.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Critics are Not Always to be Trusted., 10 Feb 2014
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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. beautul writing needs human interest to hook the reader, this book was lauded by critics but fell short of amusing and appealing to the ordinary reader.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest book since Ulysses - but not so difficult., 13 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Spend a few hours in the company of this book and enhance your outlook on life. All Perec's books are worth reading, all differ from one another and from every other book ever written and LAUM is his masterpiece. I hope that's clear.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars no life changing experience, 13 Mar 2003
This review is from: Life: A User's Manual (Paperback)
If this book changes your life there's something wrong. It is a celebration of individuality, no user's manual. Read it, take your time and enjoy... Read between your lines.
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Life, A Users Manual
Life, A Users Manual by George Perec (Paperback - 1 Nov 1988)
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