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the Complete Review
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AA files 45/46
Georges Perec + Paris

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To purchase AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris

Title: AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris
Authors: various
Genre: Collection
Written: (2002)
Length: 173 pages
Original in: French and English
Availability: AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris - US
AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris - UK
AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris - Canada
  • Edited by Mark Rappolt
  • Contents include:
    • Metro Poems by Jacques Jouet (translated by Ian Monk)
    • An interview with Paul Virilio
    • Lieux: Four texts by Georges Perec (translated by Andrew Leak)
    • The Bartlebooth Follies by Paul Auster
    • The Lumber-Room Revisited by Marcel Bénabou (translated by Ian Monk)
    • Tear Sheet by Harry Mathews
    • A Few Poems by Jacques Roubaud (translated by Ian Monk)
  • A publication of the Architectural Association School of Architecture

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Our Assessment:

B+ : neat Perecian and Parisian titbits, attractively packaged

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Telegraph A 27/4/2002 Tom Payne

  From the Reviews:
  • "It is fitting, and fittingly odd, that the Architectural Association has published an excellent tribute. (...) It leads the contributors here to contemplate their own Paris and their own sense of place. (...) (T)he most delightful pieces are from poets." - Tom Payne, Daily Telegraph

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       This double-issue of the AA Files celebrates, as the title suggests, Georges Perec and Paris.
       The city was integral to much of Perec's writing, as this volume again shows. The centrepiece here is Lieux, four texts by Perec that were part of a larger project. He set out to describe "twelve places in Paris that were more or less precisely linked to certain moments or details of my life", revisiting each place each year in a different month -- imposing some usual (and unusual) Oulipian constraints on the undertaking. He did not complete this project, but the four texts offered here give a good idea of what he was after. As usual, it is reality that dominates fancy, description over invention. But the result is still quirky and charming.
       Translator Andrew Leak offers a good introduction to these particular texts, as well Perec's creative approaches to writing generally.
       Paul Auster offers a brief overview of Perec's classic work, Life A User's Manual (see our review), in The Bartlebooth Follies. Fellow Oulipo-member, Marcel Bénabou, also pays homage to the master and his masterpiece in The Lumber-Room Revisited, taking another look at a chapter (and room) from Life A User's Manual. As Bénabou explains:

For those who know how to approach them, Georges Perec's writings not only provide rare pleasure, they can also offer an even rarer gift: a sort of light, yet tenacious fever from which the only means of recovery -- almost with regret -- is to take up a pen.
       Other Oulipo authors are also represented: Harry Mathews offers a brief tale, Tear Sheet, while Jacques Jouet's Metro-poems open the volume. Finally, there is also a selection of poems by the great Jacques Roubaud, focussing on place and Paris -- and including 'Perec's 17 extreme experiences'.
       The fiction and poetry collected here is of a decidedly Oulipian type, but the varied texts are all approachable even for the uninitiated -- and none are too long to weary readers. Some familiarity with Oulipian methods and madness is useful (try the brilliant Oulipo Compendium (see our review)) but not essential. All of it is interesting, and bits very good indeed.

       The non-fiction -- including an interview with Paul Virilio, and Jean Baptiste Marot's piece on Paris for the Cinema -- is also of interest, as is the more visually oriented presentation by Richard Wentworth.
       Finally, a bit out of place, is an article by William Firebrace on the work of W.G.Sebald. A good overview of his work, it has little to do with either Perec or Paris, but is certainly an acceptable bonus in this attractive volume.

       Generously illustrated and nicely presented, this issue of the AA Files should be of considerable interest to all Perec and Oulipo fans. Those not familiar with Perec or the Oulipo might be a bit mystified by aspects of the work, but should still find it to be a bright, appealing collection.

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AA files 45/46: Georges Perec + Paris: Reviews: Architectural Association: Georges Perec: OuLiPo: Other books by Georges Perec under review: Other books about Georges Perec under review: Other books of interest under review:

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