The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise

A review of The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise by Georges Perec at B&N:

Perec’s punch-card prose works its way through all the possible scenarios, including a Sisyphean scene in which the protagonist “quite pointlessly circumperambulates forty-five times in a row the various departments.” Perec repeatedly deploys the phrase “it’s one or tother” at each branch of the narrative, and continuously blurts “for we must do our best to keep things simple” as the story becomes hopelessly convoluted. In the preface, Bellos says the book is “close to being unreadable,” because Perec eschews most punctuation (aside from the occasional dash), writes in all lowercase, and “simulate[s] the speed and tireless repetitiveness of a computer.”

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I will never, ever understand why Bellos, whom I admire tremendously, would even allow the word unreadable to appear anywhere about Perec. Not only is the vook not unreadable, it’s freaking hilariously funny. If you want to be tossing the word unreadable around, you might–and there is a yawning canyon in that “might”–say that about An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris….but I wouldn’t. That books is a true poem to me. I found funny, sad, stultifying, liberating, and heartbreaking. In fact, it makes me want to do my own homage when I get back to New York. So, anyone who’s listening, READ BOTH OF THESE BOOKS!!!

Apologies for the typos. Mein Gott. I hate typing on an iPad!


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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