Life A User’s Manual Big Read Schedule

In this post you’ll find the reading schedule for the 2011 Life A User’s Manual Big Read, plus a list of resources and books you may want to have a look at in conjunction with the read.

The read will start on Sunday, March 13, one week after we launch the spring issue of The Quarterly Conversation. If you want to join in, this is the text we’ll be working with.

One note: I’m only including pages up through page 569 of the Godine corrected edition in this schedule. You are encouraged to read the Appendices in conjunction with the read, but I’m not going to include them on this schedule.


Week 1: March 13 – March 19: Preamble plus Part 1 (pp. XV – 89)
Week 2: March 20 – March 26: First half of Part 2 (pp. 93 – 173)
Week 3: March 27 – April 2: Second half of Part 2 and First half of Part 3 (pp. 173 – 273)
Week 4: April 3 – April 9: Second half of Part 3 (pp. 274 – 344)
Week 5: April 10 – April 16: Part 4 (pp. 347 – 459)
Week 6: April 17 – April 23: Part 5 (pp. 463 – 521)
Week 7: April 24 – April 30: Part 6 + Epilogue (pp. 525 – 569)
Week 8: May 1 – May 7: Concluding thoughts & discussions


Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature, edited by Warren Motte
Oulipo in their own words. A collection of writings by members of the Oulipo group, including Italo Calvino, Harry Mathews, Georges Perec, Jacques Roubad, and Raymond Queneau.
Georges Perec issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction
Essays about Perec, and some texts by him.
Georges Perec: A Life in Words by David Bellos
Gigantic biography of Perec by the translator of Life.
The Orchard: A Remembrance of Georges Perec by Harry Mathews

Web Resources

Georges Perec at Words Without Borders
Reading Georges Perec from CONTEXT
Georges Perec at The Scriptorium
Paul Auster’s New York Times Review of Life
Oulipo information

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Hi, I haven’t participated in one of these but I’m interested. Where does most of the discussion take place?

Right here. I’ll start blogging it the week of the 13th, and you all participate via the comments.

I am new to this site but find it extremely fascinating. I love to have my reading boundaries stretched. Looking forward to the discussion.

Looks like fun; I remember hearing about this book in college when we were reading Grillet and thinking that it sound absolutely insane. I’ll order my copy from the library now…

I’m in. I’ll be reading from the Vintage Classics edition that I bought in London, which was also translated by David Bellos, and I’ll post information about the Group Read on LibraryThing.

You might include this site in your list of resources:

which is a very well linked site detailing many of the lists and constraints of the book. It’s in French, but Google Chrome seems to translate it very well.

How convenient. Armed with my trusty hand drawn by me knight’s tour, I just began my 6th or 7th reread of ‘Life’ last week.

I’m a little behind already (I hate that!), but will pull this off my shelf and get started tonight…

Just finished the book. I am a little skeptical in the sense that I don’t see this as the highest achievement of the Oulipo movement. I’ve read Calvino and Queneau, and this was my introduction to Perec. It’s without a doubt an extremely skilled writer, but at times the excess of details manifests too much the ‘excercise in style’ approach that a bit of a signature of Oulipo. Plus I am not sure if the reader ‘cares’ about the expedient of the L-movement between rooms/characters in the building (what do we get from that?). At times one is tempted to break the a-symmetry of the chapters. It’s amazing how in few pages he can build up entire worlds (sort of subnovels) which would take 100 of pages for other writers.
So yes it’s fascinating nonetheless, but not on my top list of favorite books. (de gustibus, I guess…)

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