Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: "A Void" by Georges Perec

To get it out of the way first, A Void, the famous novel by French writer Georges Perec, succeeds at its monumental task, and it is a sight to behold. For those that don’t know, this book, all 285 pages of it, is written as a lipogram, which is a writing exercise where you write with the restriction that one letter cannot be used in the piece of writing, and in the case of this novel, both French and English editions, that letter is the e. it is not used once in this quasi-interesting novel, and the fact that it rarely becomes a distraction, although when it does, it makes for a creative and fun reading experience: one that is enriching and rises above its status as a mere literary curiosity or and overblown, overly flashy novelistic stunt. The story itself is that of a mystery in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock, although you will not be able to find his first name in these pages. Anton Vowl, whose country is in social/political upheaval, disappears after a short illness, leaving his small group of friends left wondering what happened to him. He left behind a series of diary entries, and as they begin looking for answers, bodies start to pile up. The mystery itself is okay yet nothing special, even with a few twists too many during the last hundred pages or so. But that is not what makes this novel so interesting. Watching Perec skip over obstacles with style, skill and grace, should make any writer jealous, whether that is the alternate names of water or gangsters, or his rewriting of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”, this time being called “Black Bird” and being written by the narrator of Poe’s only novel, Arthur Gordon Pym. If you come across this book, try your best to seek it out: it’s a death-defying leap, for sure, but one worth standing witness to.

Rating: 4/5

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