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Dump This Book While You Still Can! Paperback – Sep 1 2001
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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.
"... 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 ReviewsSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.