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Things & A Man Asleep [Paperback]

Georges Perec

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Book Description

Feb. 1 2002 Verba Mundi
With the American publication of Life, a User's Manual in 1987, Georges Perec was immediately recognized in the U.S. as one of this century's most innovative writers. Now Godine is pleased to issue two of his most powerful novels in one volume: Things, in an authoritative new translation, and A Man Asleep, making its first English appearance. Both provoked strong reactions when they first appeared in the 1960s; both which speak with disquieting immediacy to the conscience of today's readers. In each tale Perec subtly probes our obsession with society's trappings-the seductive mass of things that crams our lives, masquerading as stability and meaning. Jerome and Sylvie, the young, upwardly mobile couple in Things, lust for the good life. "They wanted life's enjoyment, but all around them enjoyment was equated with ownership." Surrounded by Paris's tantalizing exclusive boutiques, they exist in a paralyzing vacuum of frustration, caught between the fantasy of "the film they would have liked to live" and the reality of life's daily mundanities. In direct contrast with Jerome and Sylvie's cravings, the nameless student in A Man Asleep attempts to purify himself entirely of material desires and ambition. He longs "to want nothing. Just to wait, until there is nothing left to wait for. Just to wander, and to sleep." Yearning to exist on neutral ground as "a blessed parenthesis," he discovers that this wish is by its very nature a defeat. Accessible, sobering, and deeply involving, each novel distills Perec's unerring grasp of the human condition as well as displaying his rare comic talent. His generosity of observation is both detached and compassionate.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: David R. Godine; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567921574
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567921571
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 20.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #231,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Two intriguing and poignant novellas, Perec's first published works, show him forging the iconoclastic literary style that fully emerges in his magisterial Life: A User's Manual --the technique of crowding fictional space with an almost rococo wealth of detail and decor. Things (1965) coolly pinpoints the yearnings and malaise of young Jerome and Sylvie, market researchers who analyze their interviewees' needs just as Perec inventories their own. Media slogans and trendy magazines dictate the luxuries they would buy if they had money. To escape the consumerist mythology, they move to Sfax, a drab desert outpost in Tunisia. But although they locate a beautiful villa, their dream eludes them. The narrative slips into future tense: "They will pine for Paris," go back and recall Sfax with nostalgia. In A Man Asleep (the basis of a 1973 award-winning film), an introspective graduate school dropout denies the pressures of time, first by examining each instant as he lies in bed, then by drifting through Paris streets in an imitation of sleep's shadowy oblivion. Despite his characters' trapped, "decelerating" lives, Perec's fertile imagination is fresh and surprising.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Required reading for anyone interested in the evolution of this modern master" -- Andrew Motion Observer "As a witty attack on consumerism Things is as much a parable of the Nineties as it is a story of the Sixties" Sunday Times "Perec's first novel is a masterpiece of elegaic mockery" Financial Times "Things, Perec's first novel, is an innovative, perceptive and even moving study of corrosive consumerism" Independent "[A Man Asleep is] grimly obsessing...one turns the pages with unlikely fascination" -- Euan Cameron Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideas still fresh and even more relevant today, 30 yrs later July 24 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
We tend to forget,in our "rat race" for things that money can buy, that happiness can only come from within. We may race for the things that money can buy, but very often we forget to enjoy the ride.
2 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinks about things... May 16 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Rolex,BMW,VERSACE,DKNY,LACOSTE,RR,... tHINGS... WE'RE SLAVE TO THINGS... IDEALISM IS DEAD... 'CAUSE WE'RE LIVIN' IN SYNTHETIC TIMES...
POST-CRITICUM: PAINFUL...'CAUSE ýT'S TRUE

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