cover image Georges Pereclife in Words

Georges Pereclife in Words

David Bellos. David R. Godine Publisher, $45 (832pp) ISBN 978-0-87923-980-0

Best known for Life: A User's Manual , French novelist Perec (1936-1982) employed multiple narrative styles, word games, jokes, arcane quotations and other devices to delineate the self's relation to a fragmented world. In this exhaustive biography, a remarkable piece of detective work that should stimulate new interest in Perec's massive output, Bellos examines how Perec, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants to Paris, suffered crippling grief, anger and guilt after losing both his parents in WW II--his father died on the battlefield fighting German soldiers, his mother was murdered in Auschwitz. Bellos, English translator of Perec's novels, discusses his leftist politics and deep ambivalence about his Jewishness; his identification with Kafka; and the intricate connections between Perec's life and art. He also surveys Perec's activities as filmmaker, poet, writer of innovative radio plays, and his participation in the OuLiPo group devoted to the cross-fertilization of literature, mathematics, logic and computer science. Photos. (Nov.)