Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien PDF Ê

Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien [PDF / EPUB] Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien One overcast weekend in October 1974 Georges Perec set out in uest of the infraordinary the humdrum the non event the everyday what happens as he put it when nothing happens His choice of locale was P One overcast weekend in October d'un lieu PDF/EPUB Ã Georges Perec set out in uest of the infraordinary the humdrum the non event the everyday what happens as he put it when nothing happens His choice of locale was Place Saint Sulpice where ensconced behind first one cafe window then another he spent three days recording everything to pass through his field of vision the people walking by; the buses and driving school cars caught in their routes; the pigeons moving suddenly en masse; a wedding and then a funeral at the church in the center of the suare; the signs Tentative d'épuisement PDF \ symbols and slogans littering everything; and the darkness that finally absorbs it all In An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris Perec compiled a melancholic slightly eerie and oddly touching document in which existence boils down to rhythm writing turns into time and the line between the empirical and the surreal grows surprisingly thin.


10 thoughts on “Tentative d'épuisement d'un lieu parisien

  1. says:

    This was a gift from my boyfriend and I'm really excited that it found its way into my life because it was such a uniue reading experienceThese are the observations of a man who sits in a cafe for 3 days and just watches the streets in front of him That's literally it He lists everything basically in bullet points that he sees the buses that pass by the people that walk around the cars and pigeons and kids and foodI really respect what he did it was a project with an objective and he achieved that objective It was unlike anything I've ever read before and I enjoyed the experience of reading an experimental project like this It has honestly inspired me to try and do something non traditional and crafty with writing But I couldn't give it than three stars because I feel like it fell short of any meaning or interesting end goal I'd been hoping that he would make commentary on what he was seeing make connections or at least at the end have some sort of afterthoughts But it didn't It was literally just a list of the things he saw and it failed to have any punch for me It's definitely something I'm glad I've read and something I'll be mulling over


  2. says:

    It is five after twoAn 87 passes byPeople in waves continuallyA priest returning from a tripA child slides a toy car along the windowpane of the Café A man stops to say hello to the big dog of Cafépeacefully stretched out in front of the doorAn 86 passes byA 63 passes byI wish I could have walked by and tapped on the windowAfternoon Georges fine day it isA young man walks by he is carrying a large portfolioMalissard Dubernay rapid transit passes byA 70 passes byA 96It is two twentyTwo years before he started his magnum opus 'Life A users Manual' Perec penned this short technical exercise in observation In Paris 1974 It's uite simple really Watch the world go by and write it down It is writing of a stripped back nature with the bare minimum of fact Yet somehow a work of literature is still created albeit a brief one One thing is for certain Perec fans may appreciate this but most others will look at it as repetitive and pointless I side with Perec As he spends his time exhaustively documenting everything he sees and hears from a series of cafe windows it starts to take on an air of poignancy and I suddenly became totally relaxed life slowed down How often do I get to say that in this rush rush world There are obvious nods towards early thoughts for 'Life A users Manual' an outside glimpse before he moved his attention to every nook and cranny of an imaginary Parisian apartment Time unarrestable works against his project here somewhat and he is diverted from his observations by an effort to observe what has specifically changed in his field of view from one day to the next Seemingly nothing but what will in fact eventually become everything It is almost what it doesn't say that this short text this noble exercise in futility conveys such a sense of melancholy If in this one world there is one misery having no relief it is the pressure on the heart from the incommunicable The next time I sit in a Café watching the world go by My mind will immediately think of Perec watching the world go by


  3. says:

    When my daughter was born last year we were living in Paris's sixth arrondissement and every weekend while my wife was at work presenting the news I would walk up the rue du Cherche Midi with the pushchair cut right down rue du Vieux Colombier and then circle round and round the Place Saint Sulpice for hours on end waiting for Clementine to go to sleepThe church there is my favourite in Paris as beautiful as Notre Dame but much uieter and with an amazing organ whose organist used to practise sometimes on uiet Sunday afternoons This was where Talleyrand was christened and the Maruis de Sade to name but two Outside in the suare is a well known fountain and a few trees that provide some slowly revolving blocks of shade during the dayI must have seen that suare in every weather and from every angle – I've sat on every stone bench and I've had a coffee at every table in the one remaining café I've watched a priest trip on the church steps and go flying into a cyclist and I've been laughed at by unsympathetic tourists when my daughter projectile vomited all over herself all over me and all over the paperback I was reading at the time Nightwood which not incidentally is largely set in an apartment above the café on this very suareI feel therefore uniuely ualified to review this little extrait de carnet from Georges Perec who set himself the task of simply observing everything that he could see in the Place Saint Sulpice as he sat there with a notebook over a weekend in October 1974It's the sort of exercise you might do uite regularly as a writer but it's not the sort of thing you'd normally publish raw And I did go back and forth with this short book at first I found it just as banal as it sounds; then I started to find it all rather invigorating; and then unfortunately by the end I started to find it all a bit pointless againThis is a book whose value resides almost entirely in your own head and not in the words on the page – which of course is true for all books but sometimes it takes a minimalist text like this to remind you of the factPerec's descriptions are extremely bare almost catalogic He is weirdly obsessed with the busesA 96 goes past An 87 goes past An 86 goes past A 70 goes past A ‘Grenelle Interlinge’ truck goes pastCalm No one at the bus stopA 63 goes past A 96 goes pastIf you are waiting for him to start reflecting on what he sees to speculate in some way or to draw inferences about the scene – basically to make things up – you will be waiting a long time There is not much of that; which I found strange because after twenty minutes sitting there rocking a pushchair with my foot I had already given all the pigeons names and invented a lubricious back story for the brunette waiting outside the town hall If I had written this book it would doubtless be filled with a lot of that kind of thing but Perec either has a less wandering mind than I do or likely he is keeping himself deliberately restrained factual camera like By the end of the book we are still being fed such apparent banalities asThe traffic lights turn red this happens to them oftenI was interested to see how much of the scene I recognised and certainly a lot has not changed the descriptions of women coming out of mass holding pyramidal packets from the local patisserie or of men outside the tabac tearing the cellophane off cigarette packs could have been written yesterdayHe kept talking about deux chevaux going past and I was idly wondering was this meant until suddenly as I read it for the fifth time I realised he was talking about those old Citroën 2CVs Man those things used to be everywhere didn't they? That suddenly made it all feel a lot seventies And then this got me wondering about dog shit which Perec does not mention; but I'm sure dog shit used to be everywhere in Paris – right? I mean I wasn't around in 1974 but I'm sure I remember from holidays in the 80s that there was A LOT of it Perec apparently doesn't see any J'accuse GeorgesAnyway you can see some of the value this might have for future generations God knows it would be great to read a document like this written in let's say 1874 or 1574 for that matterBeyond that your reaction to Tentative d'épuisement will depend on many factors I no longer get excited about experimentation for its own sake nor do I think this is a very innovative project in the first place Nevertheless parts of it with their dedication to developing awareness and observation won me round and the final few lines started to read like free verse; I was unexpectedly movedOh And on the last page I suddenly read thisPasse un jeune papa portant son bébé endormi sur son dos et un parapluie à la mainand oh god I know it's stupid but I suddenly couldn't help imagining that Georges sitting there at his café in 1974 suinting out through the rain was watching me trudge into his field of vision from 2012 hugging my baby with one hand and with one of his books or something very like it jammed in the back pocket of my jeansDecember 2013


  4. says:

    Update 812012 I have revised this Goodreads book review into a proper essay now published on the Eyeshot website thanks to Lee for taking an interest And thanks to all of you for for your likes and comments I am leaving my original Goodreads review below as a document of the first draft of this essay flaws and allAn Attempt At Exhausting A Book On GoodreadsDate June 30 2012Time 1100 amLocation Kavarna Cafe Decatur GAWeather Sunny Record Breaking HeatA small bookThe pages are stiffTranslator's acknowledgment is short about an inch down the page and relatively forgettableSome kind of introduction in a bold sans serif font 25 inches down the right side The left side of the page is blankPage 5 first solid page of textDate Time Location and Weather are given at topMany bullet pointsBus observationsPage 6 observations go onA title Trajectories in boldSentences follow predictable form describing the destination of bus routes The # goes to placeShort blocks of indented text perhaps personal observations?Bus observations repeatI lose concentration slightly and have to re read a sentence twiceAnother title Colors in boldPage 9 last word is Pause about halfway down the pagePage 10 part 2 is indicated with another set of Date Time Location No weather this time Does this mean it hasn't changed?Sentences starting without a capital letter erratic indents what do they mean?Page 11 back to normal format Capitals at beginning of sentencesBus observations repeatAn Attempt At Being SeriousOK I was going to write a review of the entire book like that but I don't think I have the stick with it ness that Perec does And it wouldn't be worth it just for a joke review although I am not entirely joking I did want to see how it would feel to inventory the normally un noticed Answer it is exhausting and I started getting a heavy feeling in my stomach at the thought of finishing this exerciseIn case you haven't figured out by now this short book is an experiment by Georges Perec to as the title suggests exhaust a place That place is the Place Saint Sulpice a busy corner in Paris both for car traffic people traffic animals and inanimate objects churches cafes candy wrappers Perec says My intention in the pages that follow was to describe that which is generally not taken note of that which is not noticed that which has no importance what happens when nothing happens other than the weather people cars and cloudsThis was much interesting than I had expected it to be from that description Of course it was boring Descriptions of people walking around looking not extraordinary in any way buses passing by pigeons landing buses passing by again he notices these things without attempting to select or curate them based on their interesting ness but just based on them happening But 'curate' is exactly what he does because he could easily have noticed and written about a completely different set of non occurences a bug flying by or the color of the floor in the cafe he was sitting in or the speed of the blue Mercedes truck instead of its color Because the world has so much information in it it is simply not possible to not select when writing and this alone is interesting to meBut it was interesting on a different level as well what I started to notice through the boredom was that the smallest alteration of his syntax or the smallest change in what he noticed became a much bigger deal than if the book were full of interesting variety and non boring content So the reader is observing Perec's tiniest changes while Perec is observing the street for the tiniest changes thus my review up top was not totally in jest I started noticing things like he would repeat things like the bus passing by always with a complete identical sentence like A 70 passes by but by the end he shortens this to just A 70 interesting word choices pop out like when some cars dive into the parking lot Or when two tourist buses pass by with their cargoes of photophagous Japanese guess what my new favorite word is he visits the same place over 3 days and is very concerned with the differences between the three days What has changed since yesterday? this different timessame place obsession reminded me of Jenny Erpenbeck's book Visitation which has a similar obsession and starts with this epigraph As the day is long and the world is old many people can stand in the same place one after the other Marie in Woyzeck by Georg Buchner he starts out being completely objective sticking to the facts but soon he starts tossing subjective things in like A lady who has just bought an ugly candleholder goes by I loved that I could see his thought processes come through every once in a while like when he muses on the difference between busses passing by and everything else passing by Several other times he analyzes why he has chosen a particular detail to write about rather than another detail You get a sense that he is figuring out how he wants to conduct his experiment even as he is conducting his experimentPerec's saving grace here is probably that he didn't have too strict of a methodology He had an idea but he allowed himself to stray from it occasionally if he wanted to This provided points of relief humor light and variety though you should not read this if you're mainly looking for variety to keep a reader going despite the monotony of the endeavor as a wholeLastly I enjoyed this book thoroughly but I would never recommend it to anyone without a signed affidavit saying they won't blame me laterAn Attempt at Re Exhausting a PlaceHere's an idea there is no reason I can't continue Perec's grand experiment by revisiting the very corner where he made his observations Perec was interested in the passage of time Well it's been 38 years plus or minus some months now and I will go to Saint Sulpice myself to see if anything has changed Have the people become ordinary have the pigeons flown off for good? What if anything is the weather doing? And I will do all this not by sitting in that spot over three days but by examining that spot in one specific moment an instantaneous flash captured on top of a little car with the word Google written on the side Surely Perec would have noticed such an out of the ordinary car with a camera on top of it? But maybe he's fallen asleep Or maybe it's too out of the ordinary and he only notices 'infra ordinary' boring things So let's take a look shall we? seems like Café de la Mairie is still in the same spot And what is this? A bus you say? The 87 goes to Champ de Mars Perec says on page 8 The 87 goes to Champ de Mars Perec says again just to be sure on page 9 Now I can repeat it The 87 goes to Champ de Mars on page 2012And the people Yes there must be at least 50 people within view if I do a uick 360 Mopeds and bicycles everywhere I don't remember Perec mentioning bicycles but he did say he saw a few mopeds One of them is going down the road right now in a business suit Taxis lined up across the street from the cafe Agence de V my view is blocked I'm clicking the arrows now going up and down the street A woman with red hair is standing in the bus carrying several green plastic bags A younger perhaps asian woman photophagous Japanese? sits at the very back of the bus her left hand on her chin Oh I can see the sign now in this view it says Agence de Voyages possibly a travel agency Among the list of things Perec mentions in the beginning is a travel agency I have a hard time believing that a travel agency has survived so long A woman in a light brown trenchcoat is crossing the street There are about 50 empty yellow foldout chairs in front of the Cafe de la Mairie all facing outward No not all of them are empty Will there be a concert across the street? Maybe this is just a form of compact outdoor seating for maximum capacityprofit Next to the cafe two white trucks are at loggerheads 'Sortie de Camions' My French is awful I would be so lost in this country I wonder what Perec would think about Google Streetview He'd probably write 500 books based on it A sign says 'Antiuaires' Underneath it sit two men and a woman on a bench A narrow alley is blocked off from construction one side of an old building seems to be worked on It looks like a government building a courthouse maybe but what is it doing with this tall section? I don't remember Perec mentioning thisThe letter 'P' is still here Perec noticed this too maybe because his last name starts with a P More mopeds everyone is wearing helmets good The side of a blue truck advertises 'Bieres de Paris' Next to the 'P' and the parked taxis is what appears to be a subway station Was the subway here when Perec wrote in 1974? More trenchcoats do the French love trenchcoats or what? Perec noticed several in his book Two men in light brown jackets walking down the street briskly I can only assume from their postures one is carrying a plastic bag can't make out the contents Are they trying to catch one of these taxis? The trees are leafy green I don't know when this photo was taken but probably spring judging from the clothing and the lack of orange leaves What appears to be tin huts stalls in some kind of antiue street market? Google won't let me go there to see Oh my It suddenly looks like these photographs were not taken seuentially This view shows the tin huts but this one from a few feet down meters? they're metric over there right? shows white tents in the same spot Some sort of arts fair must have taken its place large women are crossing the street one is dragging behind her some luggage on wheels Traffic light is red A larger woman stands at the median A man in a blue shirt stands waiting to cross the street with a manilla envelope in his left hand What pray tell has happened to all of the pigeons of 1974? An ad reads 'GLAMOUR' Oh I have spotted a pigeon in the air Are you perhaps one of Perec's pigeon's great great grandchildren? Or maybe you're not a pigeon at all too far to tell what kind of bird you are A black SmartCar parked in front of what appears to be residences I am moving down the street now closer to Rue Bonaparte A woman in a white sleeveless shirt and a blue purse next to men in coats An apple green moped Perec mentions a fountain decorated with the statues of four orators but I cannot find it Surely that would have survived if the travel agency survived Where is it? Maybe it has migrated with the pigeons?Still Google time has passed as I go down the road Suddenly the residential building is now covered in construction plastic it says traitement de facades and even I can figure that one out despite my poor French A woman with a very similar blue purse as the woman in the white sleeveless shirt is walking beside the building under construction Now she is wearing many layers A traffic light is greenI found it The fountain and the statues it seems that the white tents and earlierlater time is impossible in streetview the tin huts had surrounded it and were obstructing its view I'm so glad it's here even though I had never seen it before Why do I feel such relief? It is too far to make out the pigeons Let me navigate to a better view Incidentally no pigeonsAt the end of the road suddenly the white tents reappear 'Alsacez VOUS a Paris it says 20 or so mopeds and motorcycles have been cordoned off on the side of the street A woman in a fierce violet jacket is walking fiercely She is carrying an orange shopping bag Her body in the act of shopping has the propulsive thrust of an Olympic gymnast She is not ordinary or infra ordinary she is extraordinaryDAY TWOI'm back on Google Streetview feeling re energizedNot far from the woman wearing the fierce violet jacket Two bookstores just a few steps from the Saint Sulpice surely one of these books on display is Perec's 'An Attempt' I just looked up 'photophagous' It's not really a word but apparently a play on the word phytophagous meaning esp of an insect or other invertebrate feeding on plants I wonder what the original pun in French wasAlso had a revelation during my break from Streetview There is no clear indication that what I assumed was the subway station was indeed the subway station Maybe it is the parking lot that features so prominently in 'Attempt' If that is so it would make sense that the cars 'dive' into it If it is not so then where is the parking lot?Also have been re reading Perec and he briefly mentions a district council building which I am pretty sure is the one next to the Mairie that is under reconstructionPolice station Police cars parked out frontSpotted a 58 at the intersection of Rue Bonaparte and Rue de Vaugirard I don't remember Perec mentioning the 58I think I'm kind of lost so I'm going back to Cafe Mairie Different view of the outdoor seating Looks almost like student desks A group of three elderly individuals men or women? hard to tell with their faces blurred talking leisurely Another man appears to be reading the newspaperIn the opposite direction a woman in a white jacket and yellow purse walks by a green trashcan Looking back at the opposite corner the mopeds here are parked almost euidistant from each other whereas they are usually bunched together in other placesIn the middle of the street a young man in a denim jacket carrying an instrument and a young woman in a white jacket on her cell phone carrying a yellow purse not unlike the earlier womanI always assumed this bus was the same as the 87 in the front view but the side says 86 86 just happens to be the most mentioned one in Perec's book at least that is my impressionAnd in fact it is the 86 because the 87 from the front view has a different side Two buses were in the same spot in two different views and Google alternated these two time frames within the same street The 86 goes to Saint Germain des Pres Perec saysI love how I have to keep backtracking on things I've said as I circle this block over and over again and understand of what is going on and how Google has spliced together images from different times What at first seems apparent gives way to multiple deceptionsI feel oddly like I know this block very well now when in reality this too is a deception If I actually traveled to Saint Sulpice I would be so lost I would look for all these people always rooted in their designated spots as if they were landmarks statues waiting for pigeons to land on but they would all be goneIt occurs to me that Streetview plays with time in a very interesting almost artistic manner when in fact it is a random outcome based on the different cameras' routesThree time frames1 tin hutantiue market the 86 is in this time frame2 white tents in the same spot the 87 is in this time frame3 no tents or huts clear view to the fountainThere may be other time frames I am unaware of I feel like a time travelerHere I can see the front of the 86 finally is the front of another bus It could be the same 86 but I'm not sure It is in the tin hut time frame is the name of the store on the corner of the residential building that is in some time frames under constructionA tour bus that says Knipschild on itI think that if I keep going up and down this street I will unlock some kind of secret I keep looking at the same people Their frozen postures hold so many stories Then I see new people too New things that had escaped my attention the first time through Each looking has depthI see the same woman in the white sleeveless shirt and I feel a sense of familiarity like we've already metTourist in all white and a yellow umbrella crossing the street Further down Rue Bonaparte Mom with stroller baby on back Dad walking beside her Man with a baby blue book Can't make out the title White haired woman in black coatHere is a sign for the metro So it is a metro afterall and not a parking lot Where is the parking lot Perec refers to?Two bright green street sweepers parked on a corner A few construction signs on the sidewalk Corner of Bonaparte and Saint SulpiceFierce woman in fierce violet jacket again Feeling of familiarityIn the other direction asian woman in a pink top and blue jeans Taxis A silver Volkswagon with a sunroof White tentsA woman riding a bike very close to us Carrying a small green purse Tourist with a backpack and another bag slung over the shoulder crossing Saint Sulpice Small Mercedes hatchbackFrom this angle another ramp leading down Definitely looks like a metro station than an underground parking lot over at the cafe going down Place Saint Sulpice another bookstore Woman with shopping bag running down the sidewalk Why the hurry? I see no taxis or buses nearby Across the street a woman is unlocking her bike in front of the churchWandering off from the suare seems like such a luxury So many new sights and new people to see easy eyecandy New sights without effort whereas in the suare I have to strain my eyes to find something new although every time there is something I've missed beforeRare man with unblurred out face looking back suspiciously at the camera I'm so used to seeing the veil of the blur that I feel oddly wrong like a peeping tom when I stare at his face as if he were naked But I cannot stop staringFrench taggers A store called JLR A garbage truck I've wandered kind of far now I apologize if this review has stopped becoming entertaining But it seems I am driven to look and re look without any endpoint in sight least of all entertainmentA bit exhausted now To be continued maybe


  5. says:

    CAFÉ DE LA MAIRE One of the prime spots where Georges Perec records the swirl of life An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris over the course of three days in October 1974 Georges Perec compiled hundreds of individual entries of instances of what he perceived in a certain local in Paris This dainty little forty page Perec praline prospectus can be read several times in an afternoon I encourage you to slow down and take your time little will be gained zipping from page to page most especially since in translator Marc Lowenthal's Afterward we read Attempt was one of Perec's clearer efforts to grapple with what he termed the infraordinary the marking and manifestations of the everyday that consistently escape our attention as they compose the essence of our lives what happens as he puts it here when nothing happens Between my own readings of Attempt I kept reflecting on two bits from Georges' Species of Spaces a highly provocative essay he wrote in the same year Here's the duo with my comments Do you know how to see what’s worthy of note? Is there anything that strikes you? Nothing strikes you You don’t know how to see You must set about it slowly almost stupidly Force yourself to write down what is of no interest what is most obvious most common most colourless” Georges places the emphasis on seeing Nearly all the many entries in Attempt are visual For example Three children taken to school Another apple green 2CV and The street lamps progressively light up Although there's the occasional hearing A funeral chimes stops or feeling I went up to the second floor a sad room rather cold Georges focuses on what his eyes perceive What I find curious is not once does Georges make mention of the sensation of his own breathing For me awareness of breath is rich and beautiful If we hone our attention we recognize the rhythm of breath occurs in four stages inbreth pause outbreath pause The we relax into the breath the we can have a direct experience of an entire universe opening up Perhaps the simple fact that breathing is a constant is the very reason it is generally overlooked The second Species of Spaces uote is extraordinary To describe space to name it to trace it like those portolano makers who saturated the coastlines with the names of harbours the names of capes the names of inlets until in the end the land was only separated from the sea by a continuous ribbon of text Is the aleph that place in Borges from which the entire world is visible simultaneously anything other than an alphabet? This is precisely what Georges does in Attempt And with the emphasis on the alphabet it's no accident his first two entres pertain to letters beginning respectively Letters of the alphabet wordsKLM and Conventional symbols arrows under the P of the parking lot signs Thus we're given a glimpse of what it means to be a born writer some may even say a genius writer an exceptional ability to convert the buzz of experience coming in through our five senses into elegant language And recall Georges Perec's goal was to write a different book each and every time he set pen to paper or sat at his typer And Georges urged anyone aspiring to be a writer to do the same proclaiming there's space enough for each of us In the end An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris can serve as inspiration a door to the creative life Thank you Georges Again the pigeons go round the suareI am now at La Fontaine St Sulpice sitting with my back to the suare the cars and people in my line of sight are coming from the suare or are getting ready to cross it with the exception of some pedestrians coming from rue Bonaparte French author and space cadet extraordinaire Georges Perec 1936 1982


  6. says:

    It took me a little bit to fully accept the premise of this slender volume Ostensibly it's a description of everything going on in one place with an odd fixation on buses And at first I thought neat trick but what's the point? Then the I read the it came to me as a prose poem an ode to the ebb and flow of urban life to both the joys and the melancholy of being solitary in a great city Honestly all I wanted to do afterwards was sit out in front of the decrepit royal statue in the corner of Lumphini Park watch the traffic split down Silom Rama IV and Ratchadamri Roads the coming and going of metro trains and take notes


  7. says:

    Georges Perec wrote this fascinating little very little but beautifully designed book regarding one location in Paris and documenting what was happening around that section And that is basically it Buses come and go taxi stand children walk by as others Totally uninteresting and that is what's interesting about it Perec only records what's not interesting and by doing that he is capturing a series of moments that one never pays attention to And there is a beauty to that Also Perec is hysterical His little side comments are priceless and very dry It is almost like reading notes from a detective at a stake out is that the term but there is nothing to report I love that


  8. says:

    An experiment and one ultimately doomed to failure; its failure however is also its greatest strength It's essentially an extended list of details some cars dive into the parking lot an 86 bus passes by A 70 passes by etc etc something that would seem to make for a rather dull read But I found it one of the most invigorating reading experiences I've had in a long while Not particularly I admit because of the text itself but in the way that it suddenly made me breathlessly attuned to my surroundings conscious of the tiny details of a particular time and a particular space that are easily usually? overlooked ignored I read this slenderest of texts as I sat at the small table in the front bay windows of a cafe I discovered last week and have returned to several times since looking out on a side street that heretofore had seemed tranuil and practically empty at least by San Francisco standards but as I read it suddenly seemed bristling with activity and I became hyper aware of the pedestrians criss crossing my direct field of vision casually walking dogs pushing strollers or talking on phones of the wind occasionally causing the overhanging expanses of tree leaves to shudder uncontrollably of the slightest glimpse of figures appearing in windows of the facing row of elegant Victorian style houses And for that all too brief hour or so the infraordinary—Perec's term for the markings and manifestations of the everyday that consistently escape our attention as they compose the essence of lives—suddenly seemed uite extraordinary I didn’t think of taking a photo myself but I’m glad someone else did I was at the table on the opposite window however and when I’ve been there there hasn’t been so much activity outside I have no idea what the white stuff is on the window though Photo by sparkle glowplug found on flickrReview cross posted on my blog Memories of the Future


  9. says:

    This was a very weird book and it made for an interesting reading experience The book is literally a long list that the author writes sitting in a cafe in Paris for 3 days describing every single thing that passes out of the window There is no story to it no cohesion just literally a laundry list of every single detail of everything that he sees It made me feel like when you repeat a word again and again and after a while it loses meaning This is how this book felt by the end The details didn't make sense any and even though the descriptions were still realistic it made for a very surreal experience I can't give it than 3 stars because even though I really appreciate it for what it is and for pushing the boundaries of storytelling I can't say I enjoyed it I was bored out of mind Which is kind of what the book sets out to do though So maybe in that sense it's extremely successful Hmm


  10. says:

    Life Sneaks In— Ground packed gravel and sand— Stone the curbs a fountain a church buildings— Trees leafy many yellowing— A rather big chunk of sky maybe one sixth of my field of vision— A cloud of pigeons that suddenly swoops down on the central plaza between the church and fountain— Vehicles their inventory remains to be made— Human beings— Some sort of basset hound— Bread baguette— Lettuce curly endive? partially emerging from a shopping bagJournal entries from a man sitting in a Parisian suare at various cafes at various times over a three day period beginning Friday October 18 1974 The church is the Eglise Saint Sulpice; the fountain and buildings are among the most distinguished in Paris; but Georges Perec has no desire to add to the amount that others have written about them My intention he tells us in a brief preface was to describe the rest instead that which is generally not taken note of that which is not noticed that which has no importance what happens when nothing happens other than the weather people cars and cloudsReading this through last night the tiny 50 page book can easily be read in an hour I was most conscious of the objectivity of it all The observations are punctuated by notes about passing buses An 86 passes by An 87 passes by A 63 passes by the number of taxis waiting at the rank the deliveries to nearby stores It seemed dry but curiously fascinating the polar opposite of normal travel writing yet indelibly etching a precise portrait of a particular place and timeWriting out the passage above this morning though I am struck by something else how human it is Try as Perec might to remain objective life sneaks in And once in it will not leave That rather big chunk of sky thanks to Mark Lowenthal for his no nonsense translation occupies maybe one sixth of his field of vision Even now at the top of only the second page the author has become a person not just a camera The cloud of pigeons are living things in unpredictable action The human beings are still anonymous for now but that baguette represents a whole way of life and the maybe curly endive emerging from the shopping bag could be material for an entire short story Even so what a wonderful surprise to see this entry on page 14 A 96 passes by stops before the bus stop Saint Sulpice section; off it steps Geneviève Serreau who takes rue des Canettes; I get her attention by knocking on the windowpane and she comes over to say helloA lot has to do though with layout Print each observation as a single line and it stirs the imagination Put them all together in a single paragraph and you get a montage LIFE flashing in neon rather than an object for uiet contemplationI again saw buses taxis cars tourist buses trucks and vans bikes mopeds Vespas motorcycles a postal delivery tricycle a motorcycle school vehicle a driving school car elegant women aging beaus old couples groups of children people with bags satchels suitcases dogs pipes umbrellas potbellies old skins old schmucks young schmucks idlers deliverymen scowlers windbags I also saw Jean Paul Aron and the proprietor of the Trois Canettes restaurant whom I had already seen this morningPerec was a member of the Oulipo group Organization for Potential Literature which sought to discipline writing though artificially imposed constraints—most famously in Perec's La disparition translated by Gilbert Adair as A Void a 300 page novel entirely eliminating the letter e But the beauty of constraint comes not from the demonstration of what you cannot do but from the glorious emergence of what you can In his self imposed objectivity Perec attempts an exhaustive catalogue of the everyday objects in a Paris suare But everywhere life sneaks in; the impersonal has become personal again magnificently soOr has it? Look at this another way from the top of one of the towers of the church say Here is this 38 year old man sitting alone at a cafe table nursing a beer or a gentian watching the world go by He sees some people he knows yes; he even greets a few of them; but they pass on by leaving him to his task Is there not something lonely in his detachment as though looking through the window at a party to which he has not been invited? Perhaps I am making this up But it is hard not to recall that this first generation Frenchman is in fact a Holocaust orphan of Czech Jewish ancestry Would I be wrong to see in his meticulous anatomizing of the Parisian cityscape something of the same search for identity that characterizes the work of his slightly younger contemporary also a Jewish orphan Patrick Modiano?


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