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Dump This Book While You Still Can! [Paperback]

Marcel Benabou , Warren Motte , Steven Rendall
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2001 Stages (Book 18)
In one of the most thought-provoking and wry books by one of the most intriguing contemporary writers in French literature, readers become party to the dilemma of "challenging" literature in a singularly involving and amusing fashion.
Opening a book that has mysteriously appeared amid the clutter of his desk, the narrator finds himself exhorted not to read further, to throw the book away! Instead (but of course) he tries different strategies for approaching the book, none of which work. The narrator's tempestuous, increasingly obsessive relationship with the book he is determined to read, interwoven with the story of a real (but no less enigmatic) love affair, is, in its own challenging way, a charmed and charming, deeply provocative meditation upon reading and writing, and their inevitable discontents. Dump This Book offers a new angle on the work of this original writer and an ironic perspective on the power of reading to produce meaning.

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From Library Journal

Benabou writes like Borges in love. The book's title is a ruse: this is a playful, gentle, and wondrous tale of a writer in search of both true love and truth in print. Benabou is a cult author in France, where he is "definite provisional" secretary of the experimental writers' group OuLiPo (which has boasted Marcel Duchamp and Italo Calvino as members); American academic journals have devoted whole issues to him. This book is a chamber piece in four movements, framed by a clever overture and stunning coda and telling the story of a man obsessed with the meaning of an obscure text. Like Umberto Eco's sprawling mysteries, Benabou's slim volume is packed with witty references to various other texts, whether arcane, obvious, or entirely invented. But erudition here does not get in the way of a strong narrative voice. This sweetly melancholic book is a real find for anyone who considers reading an activity and who rejoices in the fusion of high modernism, cabala, textual sleuthing, and a healthy dose of self-irony. Recommended for larger public libraries and all academic libraries. Ulrich Baer, NYU
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"... a provocative analysis of how author and reader conspire to create the experience of perusing and inhabiting a text. Meanwhile, Rendall's witty and resourceful translation is a rare pleasure unto itself. Great fun." - Kirkus Reviews

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4.0 out of 5 stars Some fun, some pathos Nov. 1 2001
Format:Paperback
The comedy of Bénabou's book about reading, Dump This Book While You Still Can!_, is more arcane and the regret more conventionally the loss of a nubile by very elusive female (Sophie) than his (briefer) black comedy about not writing, _Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books_ (also published by Nebraska) The quotations from a wide array of western literature are less amusingly apt and less numerous than those in _Why_.
The attempts to find hidden meaning in the manuscript goes on too long. Still there is some entertainment of Nabokovian/Borgian kind. (Canetti's _Auto da Fé_ popped into my mind often in reading both books, though _Auto da Fé_ has a sustained narrative rather than the many startings over of the Bénabou metafictions on writing and reading have.)
The typeface is unusually and uncomfortably small in both of these books, which are not very long and have fairly large margins. Both have useful introductions explaining who Bénabou is--a task he has taken up more directly in a sort of autobiography also available in English from the University of Nebraska Press.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Book For The Imperfect Reader March 3 2007
By Brendan Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A slender tome with a title that veritably calls out from amongst the stacks, M. Benabou's Dump This Book While You Still Can! is a satisfyingly unusual work of prose. There is no traditional plot line to speak of. In fact, the entire book revolves around a singular setting - a bachelor's Parisian apartment - and features a cast of vibrant characters, of whom only one (the narrator) plays a prominent role.

The story itself (if we may refer to the narrative as such) revolves around the simple act of reading, only made not-so-simple by the rather obsessive narrator. An obscure, unfamiliar book surfaces in the narrator's home, which opens with a hostile diatribe against reading any further: "Come on, dump this book. Or better yet, throw it as far as away as you can. Right now. Before it's too late." Being the literary (and charmingly pretentious) sort, the narrator initially takes umbrage with this form of address and dutifully scoffs the author's feeble attempt (he says) at gaining one's attention. Before too long, though, the narrator decides that his visceral reaction is somewhat extreme, and begins to dissect the text for depths previously unseen.

And it is this struggle of which the book's primary conflict is comprised. It is, in fact, quite challenging to discuss more without spoiling the story for those who have not read it (as made evident, unfortunately, by the otherwise wonderful and enlightening introduction by Warren Motte).

M. Benabou plumbs the human condition in this brief tale through the somewhat detached viewpoint of a lonely man who does not see his own predicament. Written in an academic (yet ironic) vein, Dump This Book presents a character study of a special kind of bibliophile, by way of a memorably wry voice.
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