perec and writing



Georges Perec

Georges Perec, 1936-1982 (I mean, come on. Look at that face.)

Fitting that, moments after running into my favorite writing teacher, sociologist Jim Jasper (see his comments on how to write better here and how to give better talks here), I came across a little blog post on a ‘definitive’ reissue of Georges Perec’s Life: A User’s Manual, which has been out of print for a bit. I have commented on the book (and Calvino’s) earlier, but I was inspired to learn more about the Oulipo group, which sought to promote new forms of writing. As Joshua Cohen, in the blog Tablet, explains:

Those constraints include, but are not limited to: Anagram; Palindrome; Word Limits; Vowel Limits; Word Replacement (in which every occurrence of a noun is replaced by another noun; for example, if noun = umbrella, then that fragment should read “in which every occurrence of an umbrella is replaced by another umbrella”); Vowel Replacement (in which the word ‘noun’ might be turned to ‘noon,’ the hour, or ‘naan,’ the Middle Asian flatbread, or to ‘neon,’); the Snowball (a poem’s verse or sentence in which each word is exactly one letter longer than the preceding word); and the Lipogram, from the Greek lipagrammatos (“missing symbol”), in which a text is generated that excludes one or more letters.