Life A User’s Manual – post I


Last night I stood by the bookcase and had Road to Calvary in my hand but thought about it and chose something else from a French author. There is also a picture of the author Georges Perec on the back, which is one of the oddest writers I have ever seen, and it either inspires or puts off. I opted for the former and so started Life A User’s Manual and Road to Calvary will have to wait.

Bullet points between pages 1 – 40

* There is a preamble at the start the talks about jigsaw pieces which makes the interesting point that although you put a jigsaw together on your own the maker is always there with you because they have worked out your reactions in advance

* The story starts describing a woman walking up the stairs in an apartments block on her way to visit a flat that has been empty since its occupant died – who has planned some sort of intricate revenge – so she can assess its value for a sale

* She holds in her hands a map of the block and some details of the interior structure and the tenants the live on the different floors around the flat which provides Perec with a chance to take the narrative in a different direction

* He introduces the family of an archeologist who committed suicide after failing to discover ruins he had staked his career on, an artist who has a studio in the attic, a wealty jigsaw lover and their various servants

* The theme that is starting to develop appears to be around the area of jigsaws with the dead man from the flat making them, his fellow wealthy tenant enjoying them and others in the building being paid to help store and look after them

Perec has a great style which opens up the apartment block not so much room by room but person by person with a fascination with the pictures each character has on their walls and he says almost as much about their art as he does about them. More tomorrow…

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