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.
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"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 TelegraphSee all Editorial Reviews