A Void

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David R. Godine Publisher, 2005 - Fiction - 284 pages

A mind-bending novel from the author of Life A User's Manual

A Void is a great linguistic adventure and a metaphysical whodunit, chock-full of plots and subplots, of trails in pursuit of trails, all of displays Georges Perec's virtuosity as a verbal magician. It is also an outrageous verbal stunt: a 300-page novel that never once employs the letter E.
The year is 1968, and as France is torn apart by social and political anarchy, the noted eccentric and insomniac Anton Vowl goes missing. Ransacking his Paris flat, his best friends scour his diary for clues to his whereabouts. At first glance these pages reveal nothing but Vowl's penchant for word games, especially for "lipograms," compositions in which the use of a particular letter is suppressed. But as the friends work out Vowl's verbal puzzles, and as they investigate various leads discovered among the entries, they too disappear, one by one by one, and under the most mysterious circumstances . . .
A book that only Georges Perec could have conceived, Time magazine called A Void, "...an absurdist nirvana of humor, pathos, and loss."


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - EadieB - LibraryThing

I did not like this book at all. I thought it was pretty insane but I like the fact that the author went to so much trouble not to use the letter 'e'. That's the only reason I gave the book 3 stars ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBD1 - LibraryThing

As a translation, brilliant. As a story, just okay, but worth it. Writing a book with such a void is no small task, and both author and translator pull it off with aplomb. Playful and curious from start to finish. Read full review


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suitor cast away on an island
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jottings will finish with a visit to a zoo
In which an unknown individual has it in for Moroccan
In which you will find a word or two about a burial mound
In which an amazing thing occurs to an unwary basso profundo
Which will furnish a probationary boost to a not always
In which following a pithy summary of our plot so far a fourth
In which you will find an old family custom obliging a brainy
In which an anxious sibling turns a hoard of cash found in
Which starting with a downcast husband will finish with
Which contains in its last paragraph a highly significant
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POSTSCRIPT On that ambition so to say which lit

In which you will find a carp scornfully turning down a halva

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About the author (2005)

Georges Perec was born in Paris on March 7, 1936 and was educated in Claude-Bernard and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Perec was a parachutist in the French Military before he began publishing his writing in magazines like Partisans. Perec also wrote the book, Life: A Users Manual. Perec is noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". Perec won the Prix Renaudot in 1965, the Prix Jean Vigo in 1974, the Prix Médicis in 1978. Georges Perec died on March 3, 1982.

Gilbert Adair was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on December 29, 1944. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including A Night at the Pictures, Myths and Memories, Hollywood's Vietnam, Flickers, and Surfing the Zeitgeist. His novels, Love and Death on Long Island and The Dreamers, were adapted into films, the later by Adair himself. He also helped write the screenplays The Territory, Klimt, and A Closed Book. He won the Author's Club First Novel Award for The Holy Innocents in 1988 and the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize for his book A Void in 1995. During the 1990s, he wrote a regular column for the Sunday Times. He died in early December 2011 at the age of 66.

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