As the author of the world's longest palindrome and other literary feats, Perec's phenomenal linguistic skills and imagination remain incomparable. His works, however, on not merely experiments within the constraints of language; I am not as impressed with his ability to write a 300-page novel without a single letter "e" as much as his endearing sense of humor and humanity. "Species of Spaces" stands as a critical piece of his oeuvre in that it serves as a primer of sorts for his other major works, like a meta-text or map of his other works. Beyond this function, though, lies a vision of what literature can be, beyond genre. Perec explores the spaces we inhabit, beginning with the most evident, the page itself on which he writes (and you read), and "zooming out" into ever grander scales: the apartment, the street, the city, the country, and the universe itself. He does not cease to inscribe himself in each of these spaces, for the crisis that drives this book is that Perec does not exist except in language, on the page, in the apartment, in the street, etc. Every act of writing is an existential re-affirmation, made poignant by the author's circumstances (Perec was the son of Holocaust victims). The darkness of his own history is mitigated, however, by these attempts to capture the here-and-now in writing.
This is a perfect book for the writer seeking inspiration, since the way Perec does not use language as a clunky tool but rather plays with it, tests its limits. Literature seems then not a struggle for self-expression but an exercise in creativity. Perec's approach is refreshing, original, and terribly underappreciated.